Members of the Freight Transportation Security Consortium (FTSC) agreed today to establish common standards for security-related messaging and data encryption for the GPS location devices that track tank trucks and tank railcars used to carry hazardous materials.

Drew Robertson, director of the FTSC and president of ASI-Transmatch, summarized the objectives of the standards-setting effort.

"The companies in the FTSC believe that monitoring the tractors, tank trailers and tank railcars used to move chemicals and fuels with modern location and sensoring devices is the best way to markedly reduce the risk of hijacking, tampering and theft by terrorists," he said.

However, Robertson added that for it to be effective, the data from those devices should be collected and analyzed by a central monitor that can simultaneously track the 200,000 assets in the hazmat supply chain.

"If there is another terrorist attack, that monitor must be able to communicate rapidly and authoritatively with the police, fire and other first responders across the country," he said. "That's a round the clock job that is too big for any single shipper or carrier."

FTSC is an alliance of asset tracking, vehicle monitoring, emergency response, mobile resource management systems, equipment finance and insurance companies. It was assembled last year in response to the need for a comprehensive solution to the threat of terrorist attacks on the hazardous materials supply chain.