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DHS Launches Technology Program to Detect Weapons and Contraband from Inside Shipping Containers
Friday, 25 September 2009 00:00

WASHINGTON—U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in Washington are asking industry for ideas on how to design a small, inexpensive and unobtrusive electronic sensor for inside standard intermodal shipping containers that would detect and warn of dangerous weapons and contraband during a typical 21-day sea voyage.

DHS is issuing a broad agency announcement, BAA 09-17, for the Time Recorded Ubiquitous Sensor Technologies, or TRUST, program to detect and identify threats to the homeland, such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and contraband such as smuggled narcotics, agricultural products, humans, and weapons.

Sponsoring this project are officials of the DHS Science & Technology Directorate. They are looking for industry ideas involving risky technologies with big potential payoffs. DHS officials want a small, portable, prototype system able to operate reliably inside maritime shipping containers, which are produced with traditional microelectronics manufacturing techniques.

The TRUST program seeks to design weapons and contraband sensors optimized for long dwell times of as long as 21 days. Existing systems like the Safe Container (SAFECON) program are designed to detect these things in 60 seconds or less.

Specifically, TRUST sensors must operate:

  • without intervention as an in-situ device;
  • as a single system inside the shipping container;
  • by monitoring the atmosphere inside 20- and 40-foot intermodal shipping containers during transit;
  • by communicating with a physical interface mounted outside the container, such as the Marine Asset Tag Tracking System (MATTS); without disrupting maritime commerce; and
  • reliably in a shipboard environment.

TRUST sensors must man portable, operate autonomously, under limited power for as long as 21 days, be smaller than 12 inches long, six inches wide, and six inches high, weigh less than 30 pounds, and cost about $250.00 apiece in quantities of at least 100,000.

Proposals are due to DHS no later than 4 p.m. eastern time on 9 Nov. 2009. The two-phase program to develop a prototype TRUST sensor and integrate it into a realistic demonstration is potentially worth $15 million to the successful bidder.

Submit questions by e-mail to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Before bidding, those interested must register online

For more information, see the DHS TRUST solicitation online at

Cargo Business News, 9/25/2009