Virtual Reality Advances Seaport Management

port container vessel

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Virtual Reality can help cope with the massive work overload at seaports. New technology assists US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) employees in visualizing the floor within a three-dimensional space, leading to a more effective and ergonomic design of the new command center area. 

CBP Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) Seaport handles between 35%-40% of the nation’s inbound maritime cargo, with approximately 5.7 million containers arriving annually. CBP officers and agriculture specialists are tasked with ensuring that all maritime cargo is safe and legal for use by American consumers under the SAFE Port Act.

CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) has leveraged the use of immersive technology to address challenges associated with the massive volume of cargo, working with the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to develop a command center designed to increase domain awareness within the Seaport.

The S&T team focused on providing visualization to the port’s Command Center and delivered a 1:1 virtual scale model facility planner application to operators in just under two months.

During a demonstration, CBP employees were impressed by the user-friendly interface, adjustability, and the highly depicted virtual model. 

The model can work in two ways: a 1:1 replica that can be detailed down to the air ducts and wiring in the walls; or, built manually based on rough estimates provided by those on the ground — even exact blueprints in LA/LBCC’s case. 

The mobility and ease of using the virtual reality headset assisted CBP OFO project managers in providing virtual demonstrations of the space for senior leadership to experience. 

Upon its completion, the command center will help port management make faster and more effective decisions on where to focus and deploy resources. Ultimately, this project will increase the efficiency and facilitation of legitimate passenger travel and cargo movement through the LA/LB Seaport, according to hstoday.us.