Private wireless network enhances security at Port of Long Beach

Harbor Patrol at the Port of Long Beach monitors roadways and waterways using a mmWave network. (Port of Long Beach)

The Port of Long Beach generates more than $100 billion in trade each year and employs 316,000 people directly or indirectly. Dozens of shippers, vendors and customers work at the 3,200-acre site under the watchful eyes of hundreds of cameras deployed by the port for security. The cameras are used to ensure that traffic is flowing smoothly, detect equipment downtime and guard against the possibility of malicious attacks. Over the years, the port has upgraded from analog to high-definition IP cameras, most recently adding thermal imaging cameras that can operate in the dark.

"We needed much more bandwidth so we were looking for technologies that could give us that," said Chris Samayoa, manager of technical security at the port. "We needed to make sure we had a great record for uptime, we needed at least a gigabit connection, and we were looking for encryption." 

The port's security team decided to deploy a private wireless network using millimeter wave spectrum and Siklu's point-to-multipoint and point-to-point radios, which use Ethernet to connect to the cameras. Samayoa said the Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit security was a big selling point for him, as was the reliability of the private network. Once the Siklu radios were deployed, Samayoa and his team realized that they could be used for more than transmitting high-definition video. "We decided to standardize on them for any applicable situation in the port," Samayoa said.

Now the millimeter wave network is used for any point-to-point link that cannot economically be served by fiber, and it is also used as backup for the port's fiber network. Samayoa said that with constant construction at the port, fiber connections sometimes get cut, and he needs a highly reliable backup network to transmit radar, control access, and video. He said other public safety agencies rely on the port for data, so his network needs to be dependable. 

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So far, the port has deployed 150 Siklu radios and is also using the company's monitoring software to oversee the quality of all links in the network. Some of the radios are deployed near the port's network hubs, which aggregate traffic and then send it to the port's command center where video feeds and other information are monitored. Samayoa said the millimeter wave network can move traffic all the way from the end points to the command center if the fiber connection is unavailable. 

Recently, Samayoa has added video analytics and some automatic monitoring to his surveillance system. He said that while some cameras analyze images themselves, others send large amounts of data to remote servers. The millimeter wave network, which operates in the 60, 70 and 80 GHz bands, has plenty of bandwidth for this use case.

The network was installed by DataGear, a systems integrator based in Santa Ana, California. “Ports are one of the most complex areas to deploy a wireless surveillance system because of the high level of wireless activity taking place, size of shipping containers and the heavy equipment being used to move shipping containers," said Lee Coffey, president and founder of DataGear.

After the port of Long Beach deployed Siklu radios, the Port of Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach both followed suit, according to Alex Doorduyn, VP and GM Americas at Siklu. "We're kind of in the whole Long Beach area, they've standardized on our technology, so we're obviously doing a lot of cities," he said.