Policing the Port
World Security's CEO talks to fmME on running a tight ship
Processing 11.1m containers of high value cargo a year, Jebel Ali Port has some of the most advanced security systems in place. fmME goes behind the scenes
At over 13,000 hectares, Port Jebel Ali is the largest man-made harbour in the world and the biggest port in the Middle East.
It is DP World’s flagship facility and has been ranked among the Top 10 Container Ports Worldwide; having handled 11.1 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) of cargo a year.
From food and clothing to furniture and jewellery, staff at the port are tasked with protecting some particularly high value shipments.
As a result, security levels are heightened, at all times, a responsibility carried by World Security.
World Security, the security arm of Dubai World, evolved from the security division of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, which was established in 1980.
It began operating as a commercial entity under the name Dubai Security Services in 2004, before being re-branded in 2008 to reflect the company’s growth, both regionally and internationally.
With a team of over 2600 guards, the company is recognised as having the largest source of trained and licensed [by Dubai Police’s Department of Protective Systems] security manpower in Dubai.
The company is able to provide security to a range of industries, from retail and construction to marine, ports and free zone areas.
Transforming of a one man show
In 2009, World Security was commissioned to provide an integrated security facility for DP World Terminals at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.
“The port is a part of my heart. I have grown and learned with it. It has become like a school for me,” started CEO Mahmood Mohd. Amin.
“When awarded this contract, I was told I needed to think much wider in terms of projects. We appointed a consultancy and advised what security measures we needed to put in place.
They came back telling us there was nothing available in the market to meet what we were looking for. I spent some time studying worldwide security companies and decided we needed to create it ourselves,” he said.
Amin worked on creating the schedule, objectives and visions for the port project, carrying out comparisons against available providers, outlining how it could be done with the maximum of cost savings.
“It was a one man show,” said Amin. “At the time, I set the plan up, which didn’t even reflect the scale of what we would be doing today. Essentially it was a manpower service, starting out with about 150 people.
“Today, our company comprises of 2600 people and the one man show has been transformed into about 70 management level staff at the head office.”
The provision of port security was to be heavily influenced by the ISPS code which was an enhanced set of security measures, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Its purpose is to provide a standardised, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling the government to monitor vulnerability for ship and port facilities and appropriately amend security measures depending on the level of threat.
World Security works closely with a number of authorities, including Dubai Police; Dubai Customs; Civil Defence; Immigration, Dubai Hospitals; DEWA; Municipality and ministries to name a few.
Its criteria for developing port security measures was based on the performance of other succesfully operating ports in Singapore, Copenhagen and Korea.
Amin said: “We were ranking ourselves against the standards they were setting up. We have so many prestigious visitors, for example the president, that come to see how our security systems are set up and are performing.”
There are two parts to the ISPS code: mandatory and recommendatory. World Security was already 90% on its way to achieving all the criteria of the code.
“We took the challenge of achieving everything on part B [recommendatory] very seriously, which was then evaluated by a higher committee,” said Amin.
The job required the implementation of a number of measures including high resolution surveillance cameras, biometric access control systems, identity management and command and control centre.
“Port security is 100% different in every aspect from security provisions in any other environment,” advised Amin.
“You are dealing with millions of cargo containers in a year. Just one of those cargos being missed during checking could be a serious security risk to the country.”
Prior to a shipment being loaded, checks are carried out on the company background, location of where it is being picked up, contents and the category it falls into. Further background checks are conducted on the persons delivering or collecting the cargo.
Strict security measures are in place to protect the containers once they are loaded on to the delivery bay. Anyone suspected of tampering with the containers, or found to be walking around the area where the containers sit, risks,being handed over to the police.
This is monitored very closely at the Command Control Centre which operates 24/7 over three different shifts, advises Ahmed Al Sabt, security manager of the Command and Control Centre.
“The room has access to over 230 cameras. It is headed by the crisis room, which assesses any security threats and is connected to Dubai Police systems.”
The perfect team
World Security guards undergo a comprehensive training regime under the Dubai Security Academy. Courses offered include basic security guarding, security management, ISPS and facility protection.
“The guards are trained to the highest standards,” advised Ahmed Ali Hassan, assistant security manager.
“Recruiting a guard is a rigorous process. He must be from an ex-military or police background and have excellent customer service skills because of the people he will deal with on a day to day basis.”
“Most importantly, the ISPS requires them to work as per international standards, standards that are implemented worldwide. As a result what you get here is not a local experience,” he added.
Amin concluded with a discussion on World Security’s plans for the future. In addition to external projects, the team at the port would continue to work on delivering high standards while the company further developed its Security Academy program.
“The police at present have asked for our program to deliver a certain standard – which we have achieved. We now want to go one better and deliver higher training,” advised Amin.
In line with this the company will be looking at automation and development of its HR systems which will assist in picking the right candidates for the right roles.
“We are confident that the new systems will assist us in the selection and development of our guards. This will ensure high delivery for the client.”
Command control centre
Managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Command Control Centre is quoted as being “the nerve centre for centralized monitoring, decision making, command, and control.”
Designed to provide a secure environment, for employees, customers and properties, the room is tasked with ensuring the port’s business activities are conducted in a manner that complies with ISPS code and national regulations.
There are over 230 cameras around the port which feed into the Command and Control Centre. These cameras are monitored all day by staff, across three different shifts. The cameras survey all terminals and operations on the port.
The centre is also fully equipped with communication technologies including a hot line, radio devices and Thuraya, which allow it to be fully connected to the government, police and all other public stakeholders.
The centre is headed by a crisis room to manage any crisis, threat or catastrophe that the port may face.
An electrostatic glass wall (electric privacy glass) separates the two rooms. This converts the room into a secretive and confidential operations control room through the click of a button.
When the button is pressed, the glass transforms from opaque to transparent revealing the CCTV screens so the stakeholders can observe and manage any threats from the crisis room.
Profile: Abdi Hussein Ali
"I have worked for World Security for two years and four months and enjoy it so much. I am tasked with developing the security for JAFZA. My role differs to other security roles because of the ISPS.
"It covers cargo, facility areas, visitors coming into and out of the port and the employees working on the port and free zone areas. Port security under ISPS means every single person entering and leaving the port has to be checked and has to possess the correct ID and passes.
"It can be challenging, particularly with passengers on a ship. How do you know who is a seaman and who is a stowaway?
"I enjoy working in a progressive organisation. Depending on the circumstances, we get a different challenge. Each day you’re dealing with someone new; from the customs team to immigration which is fascinating.
"Other times, a government department or state police will need to come in to do some checks, so we have to heighten security levels and assist them in carrying out their checks."