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The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2005 signed by President Bush in October extends domestic security activities, including providing funding for the Container Security Initiative to pre-screen freight from 26 ports, representing more than 80 percent of U.S.-bound cargo. With that legislation, spending on intermodal freight security, screening and inspections will total nearly $2.9 billion, or more than double the pre-9/11 level.
A number of vendors have products that are in use for imaging, remote tracking and non-invasive inspection of cargo containers.
Awarded a U.S. patent in 2000 for a novel character recognition algorithm, the Vehicle and Container Number Recognition System (VECON) from Asia Vision Technology Limited (Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong) reads, verifies and records ID numbers on moving and stationary cargo containers. VECON's real-time tracking and tracing of containerized freight heightens entrance and exit security while increasing efficiency and throughput at port terminal gates.
To address distortion caused by rust, mud, peeling paint, fading colors uneven lighting and other factors that are encountered in target images, VECON applies selective line segmentation and successive projection segmentation, normalization with contrast enhancement, background subtraction and character extraction using multi-pass evaluation modules, based on a neural network implementation.
Predominantly a software product that requires specialty hardware, including a high-resolution video camera, magneto-inductive vehicle detector and infrared sensors, options to VECON's core competencies include VECON-CDI for inspecting and documenting container damage and VECON-CHASSIS that reads and records trailer chassis numbers. VECON-CON QC aids container transfer and applies recognition technology to help ensure correct loading and unloading. A container inventory is maintained by VECON-MIV which reports stall location and updates a database of recognized numbers along with pertinent imagery.