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OceanWaves: Why aren’t ports 100% digitally connected?

‘Black holes’ inhibit real-time tracking of goods

Lori Ann LaRocco, a FreightWaves contributor, talks with Jack Hedge from the Utah Inland Port Authority and Andrew Scott of QuayChain Technologies, during OceanWaves on Wednesday. (Photo: FreightWaves)

This fireside chat recap is from the FreightWaves OceanWaves Summit on Wednesday.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Can you hear me? U.S. ports’ dead spots 

DETAILS: Ports around the world often suffer from digital communication blackouts. These dead spots not only leave a nation open to trade terrorism, they also inhibit the real-time tracking of trade, lost containers and damaged containers. 

SPEAKERS: Lori Ann LaRocco, CNBC senior editor of guests and a FreightWaves contributor; Jack Hedge, executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority; and Andrew Scott, founder and CEO of QuayChain Technologies.

BIOS: Scott’s company, QuayChain Technologies, provides secure software, devices and advanced wireless connectivity to intermodal logistics ecosystems. At the Utah Inland Port Authority, Hedge is building a sustainable intermodal logistics hub that will help prepare and manage Utah’s continuing economic growth. 

The Utah Inland Port Authority and QuayChain Technologies recently announced they are in the process of building out the first private supply chain LTE/5G network. The system will be completed by the end of 2021.


“I think we have all in our industry experienced trying to explain to people how we can see our $6 toy dog ball that we ordered on Amazon be tracked to our front door, but our half-a-million-dollar container coming out of a port, we don’t see for multiple days.”

“We talk a lot about Utah and the Golden Spike, where the rail came together in the United States, and that changed the economy 150 years ago. We hope that the [LTE/5G network] in Utah will be this digital spike, with how we can connect the West Coast ports to the rest of the country digitally.”


“One of the things that we’re hearing, and this is a frustration in seaports and this is a frustration at the inland ports as well, that these areas are black holes. So they don’t have access to data, they can’t know where their things are. Even if they are getting [electronic data exchange] feeds, that’s not in real time.”

“This [5G network] is just the next leg under the table of infrastructure. By utilizing this infrastructure, we’re actually creating capacity in the system, that ability to be more fluid with our goods movement and be more rapid. It adds capability and capacity in the system that otherwise would require additional roads and rail and things like that.”

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]