DHS seeks radical ways to detect dangerous cargo

The Homeland Security Department is looking for technologies that could radically change the way dangerous cargo is detected during transit from one port to another.

The Time Recorded Ubiquitous Sensor Technologies (TRUST) project seeks to enable security workers to detect dangerous cargo from the time it is sealed to when it is opened at a U.S. port — what's known as the dwell time.

The program focuses on cargo traveling a long distance with a dwell time of about five days or more, according to a request for information published Nov. 25. In contrast, DHS’ Safe Container project, begun in early 2007, focuses on securing cargo with shorter dwell times.

For the TRUST project, technologies should be capable of being mounted inside or outside a cargo container and should be able to communicate via physical interfaces such as the Marine Asset Tag Tracking System, according to the RFI. The technology also should not interrupt the normal commercial flow of the cargo.

Department officials are willing to take some risks with the program. DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate has tagged TRUST with a Homeland Innovative Prototypical Solutions label, which means it accepts that any technology development included in the project will have a moderate to high risk of failure but commensurately high chances of a payoff.

DHS will hold a workshop Dec. 11 for government and industry representatives interested in participating in the TRUST project. RFI responses are due by Jan. 16.

About the Author

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

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