The Panama Canal serves as the critical infrastructure hub driving economic activity in the Western Hemisphere. As trade flow through the canal increases, commensurate increases in security will need to follow to stop attempts to disrupt the global supply chain. However, processes around the canal cannot be overburdened by overly strict security measures that impede trade flow.
Cargo and conveyances must be treated according to their level of risk posed. Not all can be treated with equal scrutiny. Authorities can better manage risk when they have advance information on cargo and conveyances and can make more informed decisions. Sharing this information between public and private partners, while leveraging technology and data, will allow for an appropriate balance between security and efficiency to avoid delays and increased costs.
Additionally, private partners such as port authorities and shippers, in addition to sharing required data, can be incentivized by more favorable treatment and less scrutiny to share additional information with authorities voluntarily. This information can be synthesized and, using best practices in data analysis and risk management, used to assess and mitigate threats.
Additionally, the use of “common viewer” software would enable authorities to examine significantly more cargo without sacrificing speed. Using this system, container scanning authorities can globally share images taken from any type of detection equipment from any location and share it with any user in Panama or abroad. The system can detect contraband, harmful materials, and other anomalies while allowing for adjudication by experts anywhere in the world. This system is being successfully used in Rotterdam.
Authorities and industry both want secure, efficient trade. This can be successfully achieved through cooperation, collaborative information sharing, scalable technology deployment, and effective risk management.