The study of wireless sensor networks as part of the security at the ports is currently been investigated.

This is also useful mechanism than can be applied in the health industry. One of the problems facing the security of countries that has given rise to global uncertainties is the detection of illegal chemicals and explosives entering their countries. “In the year 2010 – 2011, the UK border Agency made more than 1,200 individual seizures of Class –A drugs totalling 3,000kg”. The pressure on sniffer dogs and staff were enormous. Research is currently on going by the University of Aberdeen sensor group that will make the process of detecting these substances easier, reliable, cost effective and trusted.

The objectives of the WSN detection system will be designed to use an integrated development technology that will bring improvement of sensing mechanisms and devices.  This device can detect the presence of chemicals by interaction mechanism which converts the chemical presence into some form of a signal that is analyse and transfer to the base station using wireless sensor network nodes (WSN) and Enhanced key management scheme for its security. The sensors will also be suitable for vapour phase, liquid phase and solid material applications. Substances like 2,4-dinitrotoluene, a chemical residue left by several different types of bombs, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), which is present in the majority of anti-personnel land mines, a considerably lower concentration than could be detected by dogs. However, “sniffer dogs are expensive to train and keep, possibly as much as £70,000 in the first year and £50,000 in subsequent years, and they need to be taken care of by handlers”.

Sniffer bees have the advantage that they can be trained in less than an hour, taken out on assignment and returned to the hive to continue their day job. “They can detect concealed cocaine, heroin and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) in small amounts”. They can also sniff out cigarettes once they have been trained to recognize low levels of nicotine. The limits to their use are the presence of a volatile chemical marker in the target substance – they would not be able to detect precious metals or jewels but then nor would dogs. Other problem includes sustaining the life span and active interaction of the bees. Therefore, WSN sniffer can be employed in ports to detect explosives, drugs and other illegal substances in cargo containers, something which is extremely difficult to do at present because it is mainly done using X-ray screening. This type of detection will prove to be one of the best solutions for security at port when implemented


Celestine Iwendi is a Sensor and Electronics Researcher at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He can be reached at