Why did the Port of Utah Inland give the California company a $2 million no-bid contract?

The Inland Utah Port Authority has described its Smart Crossroads network as “EnterpriseFrom the future supply chain in Utah.

Port officials also awarded the contract to build it, without soliciting competitors, to a shadowy company that appears to have been little tested in California.

They first started promoting Intelligent Crossroads in August 2021 but have provided little information about it other than that it includes a private 5G network, artificial intelligence, and a partnership with QuayChain (pronounced “keychain”) techniques.

More details appeared During an informal meeting between port opponents and port operators, The Port Authority’s director of technology explained that the network would include about 250 cameras across the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City. These cameras will capture and process identification information on trucks and merchandise.

A recently released video describes what QuayChain is building for the Inner Harbor in a nutshell.

“Our first publication is a mobile trailer, which features Intel cameras and sensors,” QuayChain CEO Andrew Scott says in the video.

The cameras will eventually be positioned throughout the port and connect to a private 5G network. Then, instead of going to a central server for processing, the large amounts of video data collected in the cameras themselves, or what Scott calls “the edge”, will be computed.

What does the contract say?

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The QuayChain observation trailer stands outside the Union Pacific Intermodal Center in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2022.

After requesting public records, The Salt Lake Tribune learned that the Port Authority issued a $2 million contract to QuayChain on August 23, and the contract was not up for tender.

“While we were trying to work out how to move forward, we spoke with a number of port authorities around the world,” Jack Hedge, executive director of the Inland Port, said in an interview. “No one knew anyone would do something like this.”

Hedge said the contract funds an initial two-year pilot program with about two dozen cameras to determine if QuayChain AI will work. Once an entire network of hundreds of cameras is built, QuayChain will have an ongoing contract to manage and anonymize the data. The company is preparing to make more profit by selling data subscriptions to shippers and freight handlers.

Hedge emphasized that the Port Authority had not issued a request for proposals when it hired QuayChain to build the Smart Crossroads network.

“State procurement allows for purchases from a single source, when it is a unique service offering,” Hedge said.

(The Utah Department of Procurement and Public Services declined to comment for this story, stating that the Inland Port has its own purchasing authority.)

And Hedge added, “We’ve looked at the market … very rigorously, and nobody else has been doing what we’re talking about here.”

This may not be the case. QuayChain appears to be assembling off-the-shelf products, including existing AI technology on Intel hardware, to process images and transmit results over a wireless network. QuayChain does not appear to hold any patents. It appears that many ports around the world are building comparable computer vision and data networks.

“The techniques they use, they probably have their own implementation,” he said. Tucker Hermans, an associate professor at the University of Utah College of Computing, reviewed the QuayChain contract. “But it’s something that could literally be a graduate thesis or a master’s project for a student in my lab.”

Hermans noted that a quick Google search for “computer vision,” “artificial intelligence,” and “port” reveals many news articles about similar technologies.

Launched called AllRead successfully I tested a similar system in the port of Barcelona. A company called Nanonets Building a parallel machine learning system For large freight handling in India. Likewise, business consultancy Deloitte is building an artificial intelligence system for shipping tracking for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. So she’s beyond her ability to do so data processing at the “edge”, Just like the QuayChain promo video.

The only thing the Inland Utah Port Authority appears to be working on connecting to Intelligent Crossroads that these other systems don’t provide is their own 5G network, but building a 5G connection It’s not new or completely new.

“The question of why [the contract] They didn’t come out to bid,” Hermans said, “a related matter.”

What QuayChain has to say

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The QuayChain observation trailer stands outside the Union Pacific Intermodal Center in Salt Lake City, Thursday, June 2, 2022.

Little information is readily available about QuayChain and any work it has done for ports in the past. Its website has a list of “customers” and “partners”, but the list refers only to vague industries such as “airports”, “facilities”, “public safety”, “owners” and “brokers”. The only actual customer or partner names QuayChain specifically named is the Inland Utah Port Authority.

QuayChain is headquartered in San Pedro, California, according to its contract with the Inland Harbor. Apply for work in September 2018.

Scott, the company’s founder and CEO, declined an interview request. After The Tribune emailed a list of questions, he responded with a statement.

The QuayChain system will be enabled [the Utah Inland Port Authority] to achieve sustainability goals through a connection that provides insight into environmental data.” This is unique because outlets have traditionally been “data black holes.” QuayChain combines private LTE/5G with advanced AI solutions to support the supply chain with data to make investments in zero-emissions infrastructure and other decisions to improve sustainability and efficiency. Globally, QuayChain is the first company to offer this service.”

Scott did not respond to questions about whether he or his company own patents, or confirm whether he plans to sell subscriptions to QuayChain data. Nor did he provide information on any previous clients.

However, Scott and Hedge appear to have overlapping experience working in the Port of Los Angeles, according to their LinkedIn profiles. hedge or collar This port’s real estate routing and shipping from 2012 to 2019 Before he became the CEO of the Inland Port of Utah. Scott worked as Executive Director Adviser In the Port of Los Angeles for about a year before founding QuayChain in 2018.

Hedge confirmed that he knew about Scott and QuayChain through his “work in Southern California”.

He added that he was aware of at least two clients that QuayChain had previously worked with: APM Terminals, a port operator in Europe. With a dock in Los Angelesand Yusen Terminals International which also handles merchandise in Los Angeles.

A spokesperson for APM Terminals said in an email that it has approached QuayChain as a “potential provider” of the company’s wireless network solution. After reviewing the proof-of-concept, APM chose to use Nokia instead.

The company spokesperson wrote, “The proof of concept was discarded, and we were never able to participate [in] No business with QuayChain.”

A Yusen Terminals spokesperson, reached by phone, confirmed that it had used QuayChain as a seller about three years ago, but the relationship appears to be short-lived.

“They didn’t have the skill set we were looking for in particular,” the spokesperson said.

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