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Port of Long Beach Opens Massive Command Center

$21 million security headquarters is state of the art regional resource One billion dollars. That’s about what it would cost the U.S. economy each day if California’s Port of Long Beach shut down. Approximately 87 million metric tons of cargo

$21 million security headquarters is state-of-the-art regional resource

One billion dollars. That’s about what it would cost the U.S. economy each day if California’s Port of Long Beach shut down.

Approximately 87 million metric tons of cargo valued at more than $100 billion passes through the second-largest port in the nation each year. And the 3,200-acre complex employs more than 30,000 people while generating almost $16 billion in annual wages within California.

The POLB, like its sister port—the Port of Los Angeles—has an open environment. This means that there is no single central gate or checkpoint and, unlike many cargo ports, there are tourist areas that need to

be monitored for security purposes. What complicates any surveillance within the port and the surrounding waters is the multijurisdictional responsibility of many government agencies, including the POLB Harbor Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, state and federal Homeland Security offices, and the Long Beach Police Department.

This complexity creates the need for a sophisticated information and surveillance network that can integrate numerous platforms from a multitude of agencies and partners in order to provide the most up-to-date accurate information to everyone associated with the port.

State and federal Homeland Security grants totaling $58 million have assisted the port in upgrading security and surveillance measures as well as developing a business continuity plan that allows it to operate in emergency situations. According to Security Director Cosmo Perrone, the port is moving “from a traditional lawenforcement model, to one based on asset protection.”

In addition to roadway message signs, an emergency AM radio station and an automated notification system, which enables information to be dispatched to the general public, there are more than 100 monitoring cameras within the harbor to keep track of any abnormalities, and additional cameras and monitoring systems throughout the POLB. ICX thermal cameras and FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras are being used as well as Pelco Spectra III and IV dome cameras, Bosch dome cameras and Pixel Velocity HD cameras, which can be stitched together in bundles to cover a wide surface area. Extreme CCTV GVS 1000 long-range day/night PTZ surveillance system cameras have a range of up to three miles in the daytime and one mile in the dark. “We need to be able to see not just inside the port, but also critical places outside the port,” said Perrone.

The port is currently in contract negotiations with Kongsberg Maritime to bring sonar security devices to the harbor. The sonar will be integrated with the various radar and camera systems that are already in place, Perrone said.

The Harbor Patrol uses

remotely operated submersibles (ROVs) that can be equipped with video and sonar capabilities. According to Gary Texeira, project manager in the port Security Division, these ROVs help to look not only for security breaches, but also for navigational hazards and pier damage.

The centerpiece of the security initiatives is a 25,000- square-foot three-story command-and-control center, (CCC) which opened its doors in February 2009. Located at the main channel of the harbor, the new Security Division headquarters cost $21 million and is a state-of-the-art technology communications hub that enables multiple city, state and federal agencies to work together to protect the harbor complex and its inhabitants.

When Perrone arrived in 2005, plans were well underway to create a new command center, but the building was originally designed as a much smaller structure with little space focusing on the dispatch area. The center was also located far from the harbor’s main channel. The first thing Perrone did was to review the plans and do multiple analyses, including three- and five-year need studies.

“What it all showed was that the structure was not going to be a useful tool for an integration project,” he said. “It had already received $8.1 million in funding in 2002, but in late 2005 I went to the board and asked for additional funding to change the building and its location. To its credit, the board understood what I was trying to do in terms of security measures and approved $14 million additional monies, which enabled us to design the entire CCC and locate it at the mouth of the main channel. The new location is a valuable piece of property within the complex, but we have visibility of the entire port complex from the space.”

The CCC has a “maritime domain awareness room” (MDWA), which uses Proximex Surveillent, a network and security management software platform, to integrate a multitude of sensory systems to disseminate real-time information to each of the government agencies as well as the 48 partners within the port and the Long Beach community at large, if necessary. According to Texeira, Proximex was chosen for its ability “to integrate all the systems together” and was installed and configured by Lanair Group, a local systems integrator.

“Proximex creates an overall map of the port, which can be used like a Google map,” said Texeira. “Operators have ease of use through icons. If there is an abnormality on any camera or radar, the operator can send it out to the appropriate sources. They have controls at their fingertips through one software application. Proximex pools information and stores it in a central database so that camera feeds, access, and data are copied onto one central database for easy access and retrieval.”

Additionally, the port is building a fiber-optic network that will be able to merge with the Port of Los Angeles to provide a potent video, data and multimedia connection.

The old POLB command center has not been put entirely out to sea. Once the systems went live at the new CCC in April, the old command center was transformed into a datatesting site that will be used to assess any new technology before it is integrated into the CCC security and surveillance system.

“We want to make sure that anything that is used within the security system is fully compatible and won’t corrupt any of the systems,” Perrone said.