Does Doubling the Size of the Panama Canal Mean Doubling the Threat?
By 2020, the volume of trade that flows through the Panama Canal could double. With more and larger ships transiting through the Canal, the economic possibilities are exciting. At the same time, agencies with trade and maritime security responsibilities face unprecedented volumes of transactions and inspections and both known and unknown threats.
Risk-based approaches to zeroing in on threats are more important than ever. Agencies such as Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard are sure to take a disciplined approach to vulnerability assessments, identifying the highest risk threats to security to our borders and ports. For example, a security incident in the Canal could have catastrophic impacts on current trade volumes and its future trade capacity. Alternatively, as the East and Gulf Coasts experience rising trade volumes, key ports of entry in the U.S. must anticipate an increased number of evolving threats
How can the homeland security ecosystem of Government (Federal, state, and local levels) and private sector stakeholders prepare for the future threat of the Panama Canal expansion? Here are some ideas:
- Conduct vulnerability assessments (physical and logical) to anticipate the threats based on the volume
- Conduct carefully-planned cross-organization anti-trafficking and counterterrorism exercises (table top and full scale operational exercises)
- Build trade models and simulate the threat impacts to identify further security gaps
- Develop risk-based port security and information strategies to close security gaps cost effectively
- Apply lessons learned from exercises and implement cross-agency strategies
- Measure the effectiveness of the implementation and identify continuous improvements
- Share information, strategies, and lessons learned across key Government and private sector stakeholders
Risk-based strategies, information sharing across key stakeholders, and strong stakeholder partnerships are essential to the success of the expansion, and to protecting the Canal’s economic potential. The region and our nation depend on its success from an economic and security point of view.