Another Port transparency issue

Why wait to switch to electric trucks? Diesel truck traffic needs to be reduced. Photo by Jack Bozarth.

The Salt Lake Tribune has a story asking the question “Why did the Utah Inland Port give this California company a no-bid $2M contract?” regarding the Port’s partnership with the California company, QuayChain Technologies. Details about the partnership, and the plan to place 250 cameras across Salt Lake City, were revealed to UPHE and our partners on the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition when we met with Port officials in May. 

The Port alleges that this partnership is a move towards sustainability and a transition to clean energy. Transparency over the process of the partnership is lacking, though. Jack Hedge, the port’s Executive Director – and now President, claims no bidding process for the job was needed, due to QuayChain offering a unique service.  

The Tribune article has conflicting information regarding “unique service” however, “QuayChain appears to be assembling off-the-shelf products, including existing AI technology on Intel devices, to process images and beam the results through a wireless network. QuayChain does not appear to hold any patents. And several ports around the world appear to be building comparable computer vision and data networks.

QuayChain opened for business in 2018. The founder has overlapping experience at the Port of Los Angeles with Jack Hedge. The Utah Inland Port is the only client QuayChain names specifically. Out of the two clients Hedge was aware of, the Tribune was able to confirm one of them did not use the company’s services, and one had a very short-lived relationship with the California company. 

All of this raises the question why this $2 million contract was given to this specific company, and will the investment really lead to improved practices? 

Read the Tribune’s full coverage here.