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ITS at Borders. Edward McCormack Winter 2009. National Borders Problem Context. Primary Border Function Ensure That Only Permitted Persons and Goods Enter the Country Inspection Process Results In Congestion ITS Solution Sets Provide Traveler Information Improve Processing Time.

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Its at borders

ITS at Borders

Edward McCormack

Winter 2009

National borders problem context
National Borders Problem Context

  • Primary Border Function

    • Ensure That Only Permitted Persons and Goods Enter the Country

  • Inspection Process Results In Congestion

  • ITS Solution Sets

    • Provide Traveler Information

    • Improve Processing Time

Source: Bart Cima IBI

Border data
Border Data

  • Freight (much of the paper work is handled by brokers)

    • Tariffs

    • Quotas

    • Bills of lading/manifests

    • Produce control (such as drug interdiction)

    • Currency law

  • People (held by each individual traveler)

    • Nationality

    • Health

    • Employment status

    • Time in or out of county

    • Permission to enter or stay in country

    • Political status

    • Criminal record

Many agencies involved in border operations

Customs and Border Protection





Fish and Wildlife

U.S. Marshals


Coast Guard

Border station “owned” by Government Services Agency

Many Agencies Involved in Border Operations

Complex environment
Complex Environment

Source: WCOG

The border post 9 11
The Border Post 9-11

  • Emphasis on security

  • Customs went from revenue collection to a security agency

  • Increasing reliance on pre-clearance of known shippers and closer scrutiny of chains of custody

  • Increasing use of ITS and other technologies to verify people, cargo, vehicle

Smart border accord technology
Smart Border Accord & Technology

  • In 2002, US and Canada agreed to sort out border issues

  • 30 point accord heavy on technology including ITS

  • But technology alone does not make the border smart

    • It can enhance security

      • by reducing identity fraud

      • by help to sort and analyze traveler information

    • And can improve traffic flow

      • by linking data and pre-clearing travelers / cargo

      • by managing congestion

Washington borders
Washington Borders

  • Four Crossings at Wash./B.C. border

  • Two can be used by trucks

  • Operates as a system

Example washington b c border has a congestion problem
Example Washington/B.C. Border has a Congestion Problem

  • 4th busiest commercial crossing on border

  • 700,000 trucks crossed in 2006

  • 6 million cars crossed in 2006

  • Delay costs millions per year

  • Enforcement staffing has not kept up with traffic

Its solutions border crossing advanced traveler information system atis

ITS Solutions – Border Crossing Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS)


Traveler Information Needs:

  • Pre-trip planning information

  • Advance notification of crossing wait times

Source: Bart Cima IBI

Pre trip information
Pre-Trip Information

  • Traffic Cameras

  • Historical Wait Time Data

  • Customs Reports

Peace arch or pacific highway


Peace Arch or Pacific Highway?



Pacific Highway

Peace Arch

, WA


Source: WCOG

The atis solution
The ATIS Solution

PA….25 minPH….37 min

NB: Save 45 minutes at Pac Hwy.SB: Save 8 minutes at Peace Arch.


Pacific Highway

Peace Arch

, WA

PA….55 minPH….10 min

Source: WCOG

British columbia southbound atis project
British Columbia Southbound ATIS Project

  • Funds From Both Countries

  • Measures Real-time Border Crossing Times

  • Captures Video Images

  • Message Signs, Telephone, & Internet

Northbound atis
Northbound ATIS

  • Developed by WSDOT

  • Project includes:

    • Web Site

    • Traffic Cameras

    • Highway Advisory Radio

    • Loop Detectors

  • Border Agencies Also Interested in Data

    • Including Access to CCTV Cameras

Its approaches to improve processing time
ITS Approaches to Improve Processing Time

  • Identification of lower-risk people, vehicles and shipments

  • Make the data exchanges electronic (reduce paper transactions)

  • Use inspection technology

License plate readers
License Plate Readers

  • Electronic identification of license plates

  • Automatic link to law enforcement databases

  • Helps identify of vehicles of interest

License plate readers2
License Plate Readers

  • Uses optical character recognition and works at night

  • Have difficulty reading some state’s plates, some fonts, and in some weather conditions

  • Border traffic is slow speed so system works well

  • Needs to tied to a database

Nexus program
NEXUS Program

  • Passenger vehicles

  • Smart card-based, bi-national travel program

  • Pre-approved travelers can skip queues and access a dedicated commuter lane


Nexus card
Nexus Card

  • Cost $50 (US) for approved individuals

  • Proximity-based radio frequency card with chip and antenna

  • Reader next to inspection booth

  • Displays data and digital photo inside booth

Passport license card
Passport/License Card

  • New Washington State driver licenses with RFID chip and unique ID number (no information)

  • Less costly than a passport

  • Passports also have RFID chip

The trade flow
The Trade Flow

Source: Bart Cima IBI

Electronic filing
Electronic Filing

US Now Requires One Hour Notification

Source: Bart Cima IBI

Wsdot in bond project
WSDOT In–Bond Project

  • In-Bond Shipments

    • Transit shipments thru the US

    • Shipper posts a bond

  • Tracks shipment from Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to border with Canada

  • Uses Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) Technology

    • Vehicle Mounted Transponder (the CVISN Transponder)

    • Roadside Readers

Advanced notification for entering us
Advanced Notification for Entering US

  • Trucks – one hour

  • Ships – 24 hours

  • Airplanes – Before leaving

  • Cars/People - none

In bond project

Source: Bart Cima IBI

In-Bond Project

Source: Bart Cima IBI


Source: Bart Cima IBI

Northbound in bond process
Northbound In-Bond Process

  • When truck exits port, the system alerts US Customs

  • AVI readers at weigh stations provide en-route information

  • AVI reader south of the border gives preview of in-bond status

  • Automatically clears out the bond and marks the cargo as exported

Risk assessment
Risk Assessment

  • Identification of Lower Risk Shipments

  • A number of programs designed to reduce risk

    • Pre-arrival program for trusted truckers

    • Automated targeting systems

    • Electronic container seals

  • Allow inspection agencies to focus on higher-risk traffic

Risk assessment1
Risk Assessment

Source: Bart Cima IBI

Risk assessment container seals
Risk Assessment & Container Seals

Standard “dumb” seal

Transponder door seal

One eseal that was tested in washington
One eSeal that was tested in Washington

  • Disposable transponder for container door

  • 316 MHz (military frequency)

  • Costs $5

  • Tamper indicator message

  • Readable at 35 MPH

  • Transmits unique ID number

Another e seal tested in washington
Another E-seal Tested in Washington

  • Semi-disposable

  • CVISN Compatible

  • 915 MHz

  • Costs $50

Electronic seal functions
Electronic Seal Functions

  • Reusable or disposable

  • Battery life

  • Durability

  • Cost

  • Active or passive

  • Frequency (no standard yet)

  • Readable at freeway speeds

  • Range

  • Security

Example how electronic seals work
Example: How Electronic Seals Work

  • In-transit containers of prohibited foods “lost” by US Department of Agriculture

  • Seal track containers from Texas and Port of Tacoma to Canada

  • Reader at border indicates when containers have left country

Advantages of the electronic seals
Advantages of the Electronic Seals

  • Electronic data reduces paper work, increase accuracy

  • Security – more positive ID of container

  • Track freight in ports and on highways

  • Step towards tagging all containers

  • Focus enforcement resources

Risk assessment fast
Risk Assessment - FAST

  • Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program

  • Pre-Screens

    • Commercial Drivers

    • Carriers

    • Shippers

  • Transponder Issued to Trucks

  • Smart Card to Drivers

  • Requires Electronic Filing of Custom Forms

  • Provides Dedicated Lane

  • As trade partners in supply chain must be certified

Its at borders

Source: Bart Cima IBI



Source: Bart Cima IBI


  • Fingerprint, iris scan, facial, hand geometry, speech recognition

  • Expensive and requires large database

  • Privacy concerns

  • Slows border process – false positives

  • Best used in indoor, controlled environment

Mobile vacis
Mobile VACIS

  • Vehicle And Cargo Inspection System

  • Truck Mounted Gamma Ray Mobile Scanning System

  • Captures an Image of Contents

  • Image Similar to an X-ray.

Radiation detection
Radiation Detection

  • Both fixed and handheld devices common

  • False positives common

Screening technologies1
Screening Technologies

  • Computer tomography (CAT scan)

  • x-ray scanning

  • gamma-ray imaging (VACUS)

  • neutron interrogation

  • ultrasonic and thermal imaging

  • Spectral analysis

  • Others under development

In bond its needs border infrastructure
In-Bond ITS Needs Border Infrastructure

  • No advantages to transponder truck if stuck behind untagged trucks

  • New Lane at Blainewill provide access for transponder equipped trucks