TSA Tier 1 Highway Security Sensitive Material Shipments

What is the programmatic and legislative basis for TSA’s highway security program? 

In 2004, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed its Hazmat Field Operations Test (FOT) study to determine if “smart truck” technology such as GPS tracking, wireless modems, panic buttons, and on-board computers could be used to enhance hazmat shipment security. The FMCSA study concluded that “smart truck” technology will be highly effective in protecting hazmat shipments from terrorists. The FMCSA study also concluded that “smart truck” technology deployment will produce a huge security benefit and an overwhelmingly positive return on investment for hazmat carriers.

The FMCSA study led to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Hazmat Truck Security Pilot (HTSP). This congressionally mandated pilot program was undertaken to demonstrate if a hazmat truck tracking center was feasible from a technology and systems perspective. The HTSP project team built a technology prototype of a hazmat truck tracking system to show that “smart truck” technology could be crafted into an effective and efficient system for tracking hazmat shipments.  The HTSP project team also built the Universal Communications Interface – the XML gateway for hazmat carriers to use to provide data to a centralized truck tracking center.

In August 2007, Congress enacted the 9/11 Act (PL110-53) which directs TSA to develop a program, consistent with the Hazmat Truck Security Pilot and the Hazmat Field Operations Test, to facilitate the tracking of motor carrier shipments of security-sensitive materials.


What are TSA’s Security Action Items?

In June 2008, TSA took a major step forward in establishing a national hazmat security program by issuing Security Action Items for shipments of Tier 1 Highway Security Sensitive Materials (HSSMs), the riskiest shipments from a security perspective.  Tier 1 HSSMs include explosives, radioactive materials, and toxic inhalation materials. There are about 2 million Tier 1 HSSM shipments per year in the United States.

TSA’s Tier 1 HSSM Security Action Items specify security measures – including vehicle tracking – that TSA believes are prudent security measures for shippers and carriers to follow.  Compliance with TSA’s Tier 1 HSSM guidance is voluntary but TSA is expected to issue regulations based on the Tier 1 HSSM Security Action Items that will make compliance mandatory.



TSA HSSM Security Action Items

General Security:

  • Security Assessment and Security Plan Requirements.
  • Awareness of Industry Security Practices.
  • Inventory Control Process.
  • Business and Security Critical Information


Personnel Security:

  • Possession of a Valid Commercial Drivers License – Hazardous Materials Endorsement.
  • Background Checks for Highway Transportation Sector Hazmat Employees other than Motor Vehicle Drivers with a Valid CDL with HME.
  • Security Awareness Training for Hazmat Employees.


Unauthorized Access:

  • Access Control System for Drivers.
  • Access Control System for Facilities Incidental to Transport.


En-Route Security:

  • Establish Communications Plan.
  • Establish Appropriate Vehicle Security Program.
  • Establish Appropriate Cargo Security Program.
  • Implement a Seal/Lock Control Program.
  • High Alert Level Protocols.
  • Establish Security Inspection Policy and Procedures.
  • Establish Reporting Policy and Procedures.
  • Shipment Pre-Planning, Advance Notice of Arrival, and Receipt of Confirmation Procedures.
  • Preplanning Routes.
  • Security for Trips Exceeding Driver Hours of Service.
  • Dedicated Truck.
  • Tractor Activation Capability.
  • Panic Button Capability.
  • Tractor and Trailer Tracking Systems.


FMCSA’s Field Operations Test and TSA’s Hazmat Truck Security Pilot both support the need for establishment of a Tier 1 HSSM truck tracking center.  Both will support the implementation of a Tier 1 HSSM regulatory program based on the Security Action items by TSA.


How do shipment tracking systems work?


A fundamental requisite for an SAI-compliant program is shipment tracking.  Both the Field Operations Test and the Hazmat Truck Security Pilot incorporated shipment tracking into their test programs, and numerous vendors offer commercial shipment tracking systems and services.


As illustrated in the figure, a typical “smart truck” technology deployment connects truck-mounted “smart truck” devices to a fleet tracking vendor’s data center via a wireless modem on the truck.  The truck communicates with the fleet tracking vendor’s data center via cellular and/or satellite networks.  This set-up allows carrier fleet managers to track the location and status of the trucks in their fleets on a real-time basis via an internet connection.  Fleet managers use GIS tools (mapping, routing, reporting) and in-cab messaging systems offered by fleet tracking vendors to monitor and manage fleet activity.


Qualcomm and Safefreight are two companies that sell “smart truck” security systems for hazmat carriers.  Both also offer basic fleet tracking data services.  Others such as Savi Lockheed offer chain of custody/tracking solutions for industry verticals (Savi Chemical Chain of Custody System) that incorporate “smart truck” devices/services sold by companies such as Qualcomm and Safefreight.


A centralized truck tracking system – like that envisioned in the Field Operations Test and the Hazmat Truck Security Pilot – will draw in messaging data from carriers (via carrier Fleet Tracking Vendors).  Messaging streams include location, alerts, gate out/in, etc.  The TSA Universal Communications Interface (UCI) was developed during the Hazmat Truck Security Pilot to serve as an XML link between fleet tracking systems and a centralized truck tracking system.  The UCI will also serve as the gateway for messages from a centralized truck tracking system to fleet tracking vendor systems.


A key function of a centralized truck tracking system is to convert massive amount of fleet messaging data streams into actionable intelligence to serve TSA’s risk-based programmatic needs.



What is Fedtrak™?  How does it relate to the needs of the TSA’s highway security program?


Fedtrak is an R&D initiative funded by the National Institute for Hometown Security in Somerset, KY, DHS’s Science & Technology Directorate, and TSA’s highway security program.

The KTC Test Site (KTC) at the University of Kentucky and its project partners are building Fedtrak™ as an implementing tool for TSA’s Tier 1 HSSM Security Action Items and as a sophisticated risk management tool for TSA’s highway security program.

In beginning its work several years ago, the KTC project team completed a detailed analysis of commercial “smart truck” products and tracking systems that work in the context of TSA’s hazmat security program.  For example, KTC and NIHS hosted a delegation from the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) in Lexington, KY and at TSA HQ.  The SCDF, Singapore’s homeland security agency, built and operates the Singapore Hazmat Transport Vehicle Truck Security System http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT1kMYZjWIg   The project team also investigated other tracking and security systems offered by commercial providers.  In addition, the project team conducted extensive reviews of the results of the Field Operations Test and the Hazmat Truck Security Pilot.

A bottom line determination was that there are a number of excellent tracking systems offered by commercial providers.  Although shipment tracking is a functional requisite for a centralized tracking system, TSA’s needs extend significantly beyond shipment tracking functionality.

The KTC project team is building Fedtrak™ to “fit” TSA’s Security Action Items.  For example, the figure illustrates that data from electronic manifests, trip (route) plans and vehicle messaging systems are merged to create actionable intelligence by the Fedtrak™ system.  This allows Security Specialists to answer the following types of questions.

What is the truck carrying?

What is the shipment risk profile?

Who is driving the truck?

What is the truck’s location?

Is there a problem?  What?

What is the truck’s destination?

What route has the truck followed?

Is the truck off-route?


The KTC project team is also building Fedtrak to serve as a sophisticated risk tool for TSA’s highway security program.  Dynamic risk profiling – based on security algorithms built into the Fedtrak™ Risk Engine – will allow TSA to monitor the security status of the nation’s hazmat supply chain on a truck-specific or a national basis.



What is the status of the Fedtrak™ initiative?


The KTC project has built core components of the Fedtrak™ system including: a). shipper, carrier, and consignee portals, b). the UCI interface with commercial fleet tracking vendors; c). electronic manifest (chain of custody) module; d). electronic route plan module; e). trip plan module; f). geofence module (basic); g). business rules engine (basic); and h). a portion of the security specialist desktop including shipment visualization systems.  The team is just completing a short-term test of these components with key members of the explosives industry.


The KTC project team has begun work on enhancing the Fedtrak™  Business Rules engine to reflect the TVC scenario analysis the team completed and is building a State Fusion Center interface.  In addition, the team will enhance portals to reflect feedback from the pilot program, and will enhance geo-fence and routing solutions.


The KTC project team expects to continue to work closely with key members of the explosives industry to match Fedtrak to TSA and industry SAI needs.