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If you transport high-value assets then you will be aware of the need to protect your load at vulnerable times—when in remote or isolated situations and at night. Trucks are potential targets for criminal organisations, and the higher the value of what you carry, the greater the risk that you will be targeted.

Deterrent technology, including monitoring systems and early warning devices, have not always been available to address this security need at affordable costs, prompting a research and development project to find a solution.

The ARENA (Architecture for Recognition of thrEats to mobile assets using Networks of Affordable sensors) research and development team, which is partly funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Security Research Programme, set about to finding a system that could help to protect high value assets on both land and sea.

Maria Andersson, Technical Coordinator for ARENA, explains how the generic surveillance system that has been developed could provide robust, proactive threat detection and recognition, while being able to differentiate between real threats and false alarms across a range of environments. All using an affordable system of sensors.

She said: “Lorries are often highly secure while in a depot, being physically protected and under close surveillance, but once outside they are a relatively soft target for bands of organised and often dangerous criminals. The theft of high value, high risk products in transit cost businesses over €8.2 billion a year, according to recent European Union figures.”

Dr. Andersson states that large cities like London and Madrid are the biggest hot spots, but that countries like Belgium also have a problem. “In the UK alone, 324,000 crimes were recorded against the transport and storage sector in 2012,” she explains. “Over 70 per cent of all goods transported in the EU are transported using road haulage, a transport method which carries one of the highest risks of being victim of criminal activity. Truck thieves generally steal the whole vehicle or break into trailers to take the contents, sometimes cutting panels and causing other costly damage to gain access.”

ARENA found that the most common place to be attacked is at an unguarded parking lot while the driver is asleep. Highlighting the need for advance warning and giving the driver the chance to evade, deter or repel an intruder.

The project is coming to a close next month at the end of its three-year lifespan. Over that time the project sought to investigate a system applicable to a range of different deployments, looking to fill the yawning security gap in the logistics industry—currently a cash cow for criminals and potentially a loophole exploited by terrorists.

The uneasy acceptance that piracy, hijacking and thefts are the norm in commercial life will hopefully come to an end as better security is created to protect businesses and their employees. A growing refusal to accept this situation has helped to raise this issue to the top of the EU agenda.

We wait with baited breath for the results of the ARENA research and development project next month.