IoT is Shaping the Future of Trusted Transportation

By Avi Reichental

Smart locks are nothing new in residential and commercial contexts. From hotels to stores to gated communities, these tools have been making lives and businesses easier and more secure for nearly a decade.

Yet recent advances in smart lock technology, security and design – together with tighter and more secure network integration – have created new opportunities for an industry not usually associated with smart lock technology.

Challenges in the Transport Industry

With online B2C and B2B purchases growing exponentially, the logistics and deliveries industry is burgeoning, too. And the story is the same with the container-based shipping industry, where annual shipped tonnage just keeps going up. Yet the expansion in both these fields has given rise to a whole new threat to profitability: shipment security and products stolen in transit.

The challenge is this: once goods are on board a transport vehicle or in a ship-bound container – even if secured with an offline locking system – the shipper has no further control over access to them. Tracking the vehicle or the container doesn’t solve the problem, nor does monitoring inventory before and after transport – this only discovers losses ex post facto, it can’t prevent them.

Threats to cargo in transport are becoming more sophisticated. From social engineering to spoofing technologies, including identity theft and fictitious pickups with fake documents – criminals are getting smarter and more tech savvy. At the same time, tried and true methods like simply breaking into trucks while drivers use the restroom are still wildly popular, too.

As long as the transport industry lacks an ironclad and auditable solution for authorized access control – cargo remains are risk. That’s why lock and security companies are investing massive R&D resources create connected, simple and highly-secure IoT locking systems that can be applied in residential, commercial, and transportation contexts.

How Will IoT, Bluetooth, GPS and Network-Connected Locks Change Transportation Security?

Locks are access control devices. In shipping, the challenge is ensuring that access is limited and discovering if and when access permissions have been violated.

To ensure that what’s in the truck or container at the point of origin arrives intact and untampered, consider a combination of robust environmental lock hardware and ironclad digital access technologies that work in perfect synchronization.

On the hardware side, an environmental padlock designed to protect against both physical attacks and withstand extreme weather for extended periods of time serves as the foundation. Digitally controlled, GPS-enabled and network connected, the lock could be remotely opened, the lock code changed from company headquarters, or permissions to lock/unlock remotely granted. Moreover, each opening or closing would be securely recorded using widely available distributed ledger or blockchain technology, creating an airtight access audit trail.

In this scenario, the shipper could be 100% certain that access to a given shipment was secure. Assuming the container or truck exterior is intact, any access to the goods within becomes fully transparent. Even if the locking mechanism is somehow bypassed or overcome, and goods removed or damaged, the shipper can know when and where it happened, and (more importantly) can demonstrate proof for insurance purposes.

This type of access control would not only secure cargo, but would also be a game-changer vis-à-vis customs for international shipping. If the nature and quantity of goods sealed into a container at the point of origin are verified, and the container sealed with a lock that provides a verifiable audit trail, customs clearance at the point of receipt could be markedly expedited.

The Bottom Line

IoT-enabled locks, combined with state-of-the-art locking mechanisms, will open a world of new possibilities for the transportation industry. Forward-thinking transportation providers are turning to such solutions to lower risk in shipping and delivery, mitigate damage from loss of goods in transport, and enhance the visibility of the transportation value chain.

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