Highway robbery, road pirates and now hijackers off the coast of Somalia. There are several threats facing the transport industry. Coordination of transport management in order to protect transports is the focus for researcher and security expert Daniel Ekwall. The purpose of his research is to understand how criminal attacks on transports are carried out and how changed routines can prevent those attacks.
His dissertation “Managing the Risk for Antagonistic Threats against the Transport Network” starts out from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, an event which entirely changed the global perception of logistics. The attacks showed how vulnerable systems for modern transport chains are, regardless of who poses a threat and why.
“The threats on the transport industry have always been there and will be so in the future too. That’s a tough conclusion for us engineers, we want to solve the problems. But they are manageable, it is all about looking at the problem from many different perspectives and about cooperating,” says Daniel Ekwall at the Department of Logistics and Transport at Chalmers and the School of Engineering at the University of Borås.
On Thursday the 28th of May, he gave a lecture at the Logistics and Transport Convention in Gothenburg, talking about “Pirates, Terrorists and Illegal Supply Chains – A Threat to World Peace.” In the dissertation Daniel Ekwall discusses the problem of threats to transports from a variety of perspectives, while applying various solutions to the problems. One example of a threat would be the violent attacks on money shipments a few years back, another would be the so-called cloth cutters, who would cut through the protective canvas on trucks to see if the cargo was of value.
”It takes knowledge, courage, a special ruthlessness and willingness among the perpetrators to be able to blow up money shipments. The frequency of robberies like that has decreased as the thieves have been mapped and arrested. In the second case the protective canvas was replaced by entirely closed-off transports.”
The core of the dissertation is the article “The Displacement Effect in Cargo Theft.” The article focuses on the so-called transfer effects – or unwanted side effects in crime fighting.
“A recognised transfer effect is that the measures that are intended to make it harder for the criminal instead push him to commit crimes in new ways. The change in the technical social environment always leads to new crime opportunities arising. Innovative criminal can use these opportunities. But we can also see that the changes sort the skilled thieves from the bad. The highway pirates in Sweden have been handled well by the police, through skilled intelligence work and by mapping the set routes and informing the public.”
Daniel Ekwall’s research has been given a lot of attention by many different actors within the transport industry. And he says that protecting the rest stops for transports is possible.
“Simply put, it is about what the actors are ready to invest in when it comes to protection, and what losses they think they can achieve before changing their routines. Some actors will not be able to cope with change, but will break economically, while others will profit from change.”
The threats on the transport industry is a hot potato. Everybody doesn’t want to tell the truth. Ten percent of world trade is comprised by an illegal flow of goods. In addition, there is also villain romanticism and a fear of crooks says Daniel Ekwall:
“That makes it all the more difficult. I have based my dissertation on a European perspective with Sweden as a target. In general you might say that the problems are bigger in metropolitan areas.”
This spring the hijackers off the coast of Somalia have been discussed and debated at the highest international political level. The pirate problem is complicated according to Ekwall. A lot of the blame should befall the non-functioning Somali state. If they had been able to defend Somali waters from the onset, the problems would have been much smaller and going into pirating might not have been as attractive. Today there is no legislation in place. An important objective with the dissertation is laying a foundation for future research in the field, and to give practitioners concrete hints and ideas on how they could contribute to reducing the threats to the transport industry.
The abstract in Chalmers Publication Database CPL >>>
Daniel Ekwall, email: Daniel.Ekwall@hb.se
Tel: +46 761-18 81 30
Daniel Ekwall defended his thesis “Managing the Risk for Antagonistic Threats against the Transport Network” on Friday the 8th of May at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.
Opponent: Helen Peck, Department of Applied Science, Security and Resilience at Cranfield University, Shrivenham, England.