Tuesday, September 06, 2005

CSI: Supply Chain

For those of you not in the United States, CSI or Crime Scene Investigator is a huge hit TV show on CBS. The original show took place in Las Vegas and was quickly followed up by CSI: Miami a few years ago. Last night's episode had the CSI crew solving a murder mystery involving counterfeit US $50 bills. To make a long story short, the CSI team discovered that the counterfeit money was being shipped from the Port of Miami in freight containers. To find the containers before they shipped out, Horatio Caine, the lead CSI detective, teamed up with US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and used a (Vehicle And Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) that uses gamma radiation (click for video demonstration) to scan and look in the freight containers to find the suitcases that contained the counterfeit cash. While this may look like the magic of Hollywood the technology does work and is in use today at many US ports. The scanning of a 40 ft container is done in 6 seconds so one could imagine how helpful it could be in scanning the thousands of containers that arrive in a port daily.

So what's next CBP: Los Angeles? Stay tuned.


Yoshiko Matsuda said...

I am not in the US, but I am a kind of CSI buff. :-) Naturally we can't afford enjoying the programs in real time though. Maybe, our episodes are 1 or 2 years behind yours. I am looking forward to watching the episode you introduced... maybe in 2007 ? ;-)

Barry Leiba said...

CSI fans should have a listen to this National Public Radio item from last year, in which they talk with the woman from the Las Vegas forensics lab who was a consultant for the TV series.

To me, the most interesting point that she makes is that juries are now reluctant to convict if the case lacks the sort of high-tech evidence that CSI has made them believe is commonly available.