The IBM framework will seek to secure not just goods, but other "key flows," including people, conveyances, money and information. As one example of a target vertical market, Gould cited the travel industry.But Intelligent Trade Lane differs from the other initiatives in a number of ways, Roedbro said, in another follow-up interview. For example, unlike SaviTrak, which is RFID-based, IBM and Maersk will use a mix of wireless approaches.
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"With RFID, you could only track packages at ports, as they passed through RFID readers. Instead, well be able to track packages in transit, wherever they are in the world," Roedbro said.
Satellite-based communications will be used for tracking containers aboard ships, whereas cellular and mesh wireless networks will come into play for packages in transit on trucks and trains.
Intelligent Trade Lane will revolve around cigar box-sized devices, dubbed TRECs (Tamper Resistant Embedded Controllers), which will attach to shipping containers.
Each TREC device will house a full-fledged computer, smart card and sensors. Identification and location environment will be stored in the smart card and secured with the use of IBMs encryption technology.
IBM and Maersk expect to use about 20 TREC devices in this years pilot, and 1,000 TRECs in next years larger commercial test, according to Roedbro.
Some experts in the logistics and port security arenas are upbeat over IBMs new steps in the shipment tracking industry.
"IBMs presence will be good for the market," said Lani Fritts, chief operating officer at Savi Networks, during another interview.
"This [initiative] will give Maersk an added level of granularity in data collection, while also allowing communications to customers in real time or near real time," said George Feitel, vice president of feasibility and assessment at Wavera, a Chicago-based venture research and development firm.
"But to make this work, Maersk needs a partner of IBMs caliber in the areas of global presence, technical prowess and consulting expertise," according to the industry analyst.
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IBM and Maersk are not the only companies to be working on intelligent shipping lane technologies. Also this week, for example, Savi Networks announced SaviTrak.