Tech and the post-Brexit landscape
Improving the border
Sharing data can considerably simplify a task, such as clearing a cargo container through customs. When cargo described in a manifest appears to match the images of items from an X-ray screening of a cargo container, the probability of the cargo manifest being accurate rises. The need to open the container and perform time and resource intensive, hands-on inspections of the cargo upon arrival in port declines. Machine learning and AI software can be designed to fuse data from manifests, with images from X-rays, to flag shipments for closer inspection when the results do not appear to match. On a smaller scale, data from customs declarations by individuals can be similarly fused with x-ray data on luggage to accelerate travellers’ passage through airport customs.
By permitting data to do more ‘heavy lifting’ for customs and immigration, we can share that data across departments and create operational cost savings for border services organisations. That way borders services organisations such as HMRC, Border Force, Immigration, and Port Authorities can continue to generate data using the software it chooses, but it would be shared to generate actionable intelligence.
However, this approach to data sharing will require new levels of standardisation, system reliability, and security. Any technology connecting public and private entities, like the one being implemented between the NHS and Private Healthcare Information Network, needs to be supported by well-monitored, well-maintained networks that enable different organisations to use one repository containing all necessary information relating to a person’s immigration status. However, such a comprehensive system will require sophisticated access management, endpoint security, and event logging to ensure it’s only being accessed by the right people for the right reasons.
Simon Daykin, Leidos
Simon Daykin is chief technology officer for Leidos UK’s Civil, Defence and Health business units, providing strategic business technology leadership for UK customers. Motivated by the benefits technology can bring, Simon is passionate about supporting digital transformations through strategy, design and delivery to solve some of the most challenging problems in today’s world. Before joining Leidos, Simon served as chief architect of NATS and CTO of Logicalis.
Final thoughts: “Brexit negotiations have made the process of border management as the centrepiece of policy negotiations which has placed these set of processes as a major investment item for the UK government. At the operational level, agencies and departments now have the platform to debate and set out what investments need to be made and with what priority to support a safe, secure and better border. The challenge today in the UK is that this data is spread across many systems, layers of technologies and organisational boundaries.
“Ensuring smart people have access to smart data provides a more effective and lower cost operation and will provide a border that is fit for purpose. Now is the time, whatever happens with Brexit, to break down these silos and invest in our border management capabilities and processes.”
Paul Parker, Solar Winds
Paul Parker brings over 22 years of IT infrastructure experience, having worked with multiple miltary, intelligence, civilian and commercial organisations. Paul has received multiple military and civilian awards for service, support and innovation, having served as vice president of engineering for the federal division of Inflobox, an IT automation and security firm, as well as holding positions at CS2, Ward Solutions, Eagle Alliance and Dynamics Research Corporation.
Final thoughts: “Utilising technology such as log and event management will be important to the success of cross organisation communication technology—much less flashy, perhaps, than deploying new iris scanners, but hugely important in maintaining the security and integrity of the shared services network. Having a method to track record access, access duration, and events related to the records will be critical for proving that the system is not being misused and is updated regularly by the right people.
“With a trusted network linking different endpoints from police forces, to border control agents, to immigration officials, down to the physical passport and biometric scanners, the UK can build a more comprehensive immigration and customs system that will be fit for the challenges of a post-Brexit landscape.”