Ore. group wins $1.6M TSA grant

Transportation Security Administration officials have awarded a $1.62 million contract for development of a prototype security system for ports that could provide the basis for an extensive information-sharing network throughout the Northwest and beyond.

TSA officials gave the grant to the Regional Maritime Security Coalition (RMSC), based in Portland, Ore., to create a multiagency Cargo Information Action Center covering 22 ports on the Columbia/Snake River System stretching from Astoria, Ore., on the Pacific coast, to Lewiston, Idaho.

The regional coalition is a nonprofit organization comprising the Oregon Emergency Management Center in Salem, Ore., and several shipping companies and port authorities. The secure communication bridge that links all of the participants in the coalition uses the Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security.

Officials expect that the information center will help determine the real-world capabilities of promising technology, according to David Stone, TSA's acting administrator. "What we learn will have the potential at many other ports," he said.

A demonstration in November 2003 showed how the RMSC network could help in emergency situations by assisting the Coast Guard to trace a simulated biological threat.

However, RMSC officials believe the new information-sharing network could also help ports meet tough new regulatory requirements and increase the ability of ports to cooperate more closely with each other on trade, commerce and security issues.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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