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Resilience of Maritime Transport for Emergency Response Following an Earthquake

Publication: Canadian Transport Research Forum Conference (CTRF) 56th Annual Conference - Ensuring Resilience in Transportation Systems: Anticipating and Responding to Pandemic, Climate, Demographic and Economic Changes
Publication Date: 2021

Following an earthquake, coastal and island communities may need to rely primarily on maritime transport for regular and critical supplies during the emergency response phase. However, such a disaster may also disrupt the needed transport activities in several ways, including damage to critical infrastructure (CI) such as ports and roads. The Strategic Planning for Coastal Community Resilience to Marine Transportation Disruption (SIREN) project, comprising teams from four universities, was established with the support of EMBC (Emergency Management British Columbia) and the MEOPAR NCE (Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response – Network of Centres of Excellence) to explore resilience strategies and response options through the development and application of a suite of models. This brief article serves to summarize this broad initiative, relegating the details to other more technical publications under development by the team.


Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Ronald Pelot, Floris Goerlandt, Stephanie Chang, David Bristow, Cheng Lin, Lina Zhou
Recommended Citation:
Pelot, Ronald, Floris Goerlandt, Stephanie Chang, David Bristow, Cheng Lin, Lina Zhou, and Anne Goodchild. "Resilience of Maritime Transport for Emergency Response Following an Earthquake." In CTRF 56th Annual Conference-Ensuring Resilience in Transportation Systems: Anticipating and Responding to Pandemic, Climate, Demographic and Economic Changes. 2021.

Shipping Resilience: Strategic Planning for Coastal Community Resilience to Marine Transportation Risk (SIREN)

Many coastal communities across Canada are highly dependent upon maritime transportation systems that are vulnerable in natural disasters. This project aims to improve understanding of how coastal maritime transportation systems would be disrupted in natural hazard events, how such disruption would impact coastal communities, and what strategies could effectively address this risk.

Ports across Canada are vulnerable in natural disasters, and their disruption can pose severe consequences for marine transportation systems and the coastal communities that rely on them. This project aims to improve understanding of how different types of ports may be affected in hazard events, with focus on catastrophic earthquake risk in coastal British Columbia, and consideration of severe hurricane damage to ports in Eastern Canada.

Focusing on the movement of people and goods in the emergency response phase of a disaster, the research team develops new tools, information, and risk assessments to support preparedness planning by local and provincial governments and the transportation sector. Through iterative engagement with stakeholders, the research is also intended to foster dialogue and shared understandings of risk that are necessary for resilience planning.

The research consists of an interrelated set of activities:

  • Organization of workshops for engaging government and transport sector stakeholders.
  • Development of a framework for assessing community resilience to shipping and port disruption.
  • Development of a model and simulation tool for the coastal maritime transportation system and regional multimodal logistics system.
  • Development of a simulation model for port operations and vulnerabilities to natural hazards.
  • Development of an approach for evaluating the effectiveness of the modelling approach.

Research questions:

  1. How would a major disaster likely affect marine transportation routes?
  2. How would this marine transportation disruption affect the movement of people and resources in the emergency response phase?
  3. What strategies (e.g., alternate routes and/or transport modes) would be effective for different types of communities in alleviating the potential consequences?
  4. Will a port be available, and in what state, after a natural hazard event, considering its own vulnerability and the vulnerability of interdependent infrastructure (e.g., road access, electric power)?
  5. Based on expected states, what ports could be used for ingress and egress of populations and resources during the immediate and sustained response phases of a catastrophic disaster?
  6. What strategies would be effective for different types of ports to reduce failure risk or improve functional resilience?

Lessons from Tests of Electronic Container Door Seals

Publication: Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting
Publication Date: 2009
A series of field operational tests completed by Washington State over a 10-year period has shown that electronic container door seals (E-seals) can increase the efficiency and improve the security of containerized cargo movement. Universal use of E-seals, along with the associated infrastructure, could provide notable improvements in security, container tracking, and transaction cost reductions. Testing in ports, border facilities, and on roadways proved that E-Seal technology works: E-Seals can accurately and automatically report on container status at choke points, and the records can be accessed online to verify seal location, status (tampered or untampered), date, and time. However, a number of institutional barriers are likely to delay or even forestall the adoption of E-seals. A lack of standards is a major issue, since the E-seals available today use many different frequencies, hindering their applicability to international trade flows. A further barrier is the acceptability and cost of E-seals to the container industry. Routine use of seals would require new software linkages and container sealing procedures, which could slow acceptance. Disposable seals, which eliminate the need to recycle E-seals, are not common because they need to be produced in large quantities to be low cost. E-seals acceptable to the industry also need to be proved in a real world trade environment and need to be functionally simple to reduce routine operational problems. Compatibility with existing highway transponders systems might also promote E-seal acceptance, since containers could be tracked on the roadway system.



Authors: Dr. Ed McCormack, Mark Jensen, Al Hovde
Recommended Citation:
McCormack, E., Jensen, M., & Hovde, A. (2009). Lessons from Tests of Electronic Container Door Seals (No. 09-0821).
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Economic Characteristics of Drayage Drivers at the Port of Seattle

Publication Date: 2014

The Port of Seattle surveyed drayage truckers serving the port in 2006, 2008, and surveyed drivers again in 2013 in partnership with the University of Washington. This thesis describes the methodology used to survey drayage drivers at the Port of Seattle, describes the economic conditions of drayage drivers at the port and changes in economic conditions since previous surveys, and attempts to model driver earnings based on other driver characteristics.

By increasing the number of days that the survey was distributed, and by soliciting driver feedback to make the survey understandable and relevant to drivers, the 2013 survey was able to gather a larger survey size than previous efforts (290 responses in 2013, compared to 99 responses in 2008 and 167 responses in 2006).

From 2008 to 2013, there was a reduction in the number of drivers working five or more days per week, from 80% in 2008 to 70% in 2013. The percentage of drivers doing work other than port trucking has increased from 8% in 2008 to 37% in 2013. Findings suggest that due to changing conditions at the Port of Seattle, there is a growing population of drivers that do port trucking as a part-time job in combination with other forms of work, rather than a full-time occupation.

Attempts at modeling driver earnings based on other factors (English as a second language, trip type, doing work other than port trucking, and average hours worked per week) did not discover strong relationships between these factors and earnings. It is recommended that future efforts in this area use higher resolution earnings data than the data available from the 2013 survey.

Authors: Jerome Drescher
Recommended Citation:
Drescher, Jerome (2014). Economic Characteristics of Drayage Drivers at the Port of Seattle, University of Washington Master's Degree Thesis.
Thesis: Array

A Container Terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert: Considerations from a Transportation Perspective

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Publication: Canadian Political Science Review
Volume: 2(4)
Pages: 60-75
Publication Date: 2008

This paper discusses the transport of containers between the Port of Prince Rupert and the hinterland. The result of several data collection and analysis efforts, we present a set of findings regarding the role Prince Rupert might play in North American transportation, and the particular strengths or weaknesses of this facility. In the short term, there will be no facilities for container rehandling in Prince Rupert. This activity may take place in Prince George, or more likely these importers may continue to use the facilities surrounding Vancouver. Given the current rail network, Prince George will be required to handle as much cargo as Prince Rupert. This will have negative impacts on air quality in Prince George, yet potentially positive impacts on employment and economic activity through rehandling and transloading opportunities. Due to sizeable resources in Western Canada, this Port may offer a better ratio of exports to imports than other West Coast terminals which will attract steamship lines looking for west-bound fares. Unfortunately, on multi-stop routes, this may also mean Prince Rupert is visited after other West Coast destinations, thereby reducing the benefit of being closer to Asia. Despite these uncertainties, we conclude that, because of its unique features, this Port has strong potential to impact logistics practices in a continental transportation system.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Susan Albrecht, Tsit Lam, Kasey Faust
Recommended Citation:
Anne Goodchild, Susan Albrecht, Tsit Lam, Kasey Faust. "A Container Terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert: Considerations from a Transportation Perspective." Canadian Political Science Review 2, no. 4 (December 2008): 60-75.