New approaches to border management

Today we discuss with Mr. Anthony Barone how to modernize border management techniques. Mr. Barone is a writer and adjunct professor. He has served at the WCO and American Federal Advisory bodies and held senior positions in both the industrial and logistics industries most recently at Pfizer.

Tony, it seems that we are living in a fairly dangerous world today. Threats to society arise from globalized terrorism, organized crime and individual criminal acts, such as the commission of fraud. How do border management techniques address these threats?

Not very well, I’m afraid. Border management techniques that are used today to identify and interdict criminal activities are based on technologies and concepts that are out of date. They cause unpredictability in supply chains, discriminate against smaller companies and opportune official corruption.

The absence of real time information exchange between countries, and even within countries among different departments of border management, is complicating the inherent challenges faced by border management authorities. Unfortunately crime has globalized, but law enforcement has not.

The supply chains are internationalizing rapidly, so all nations need to find ways that facilitate legitimate trade and simultaneously disrupt criminal activity hidden in commercial supply chains. Can emerging technologies be the solution?

Newly emerging technologies present both new threats and new opportunities. Threats arise from the criminal use of new technologies such as the use of social media by terror organizations and bitcoin money exchange by drug cartels. Opportunities to leverage technology arise from the ubiquitous use of integrated supply chain technology within the private sector, relatively inexpensive cloud based processing capabilities and a variety of hardware developments, such as Machine to Machine data processing or Internet of Things.

Emerging technologies may make it possible to accomplish the dual goals of facilitation and security, but certain prerequisites must be addressed in order for such solutions to succeed. The innovations must benefit both the private sector and governments in several different ways. There must be real economic value in transformative strategies. Political leadership must see a match to public policy goals and developers must see profit opportunity in the development of tools.

As you said, various public and private stakeholders may have different interests and priorities, and on top of this private citizens have increasing and legitimate privacy concerns. What should we do that real issues are accommodated despite these potentially contradictory goals?

The importance of engaging the private sector as agents of change cannot be understated. Both goods shippers and logistics service providers must find benefit through significantly reduced costs. And those savings must outweigh out-of-pocket investments that are needed to achieve them.

Articulating possible solutions faces significant headwinds. Among these are the investments made in current practices on both the private and public side. Reluctance to change is further bolstered by financial considerations including possible costs of transformation and the loss of revenue derived from existing systems.

Additionally, authorities charged with these responsibilities may feel threatened by criticism of programs they administer. Importers and exporters may fear reprisal from authorities. Trade associations may be too dependent on access to authorities to seriously challenge extant programs. Without a political constituency and given these challenges, introducing and implementing game changing ideas will be difficult.

So, what would you propose to modernize border management techniques? It seems to require radically transformative ideas.

I propose that we get together a group of independent experts who are willing to explore radically new approaches to border management. They would be tasked to investigate how supply chain facilitation as an open source capability could simultaneously block criminal activity and reduce the costs of border administration. They should consider both private and public sector effects and have a global focus so that all nations can benefit from their work.

Thank you, Tony, for the interview. CBRA team is interested to join the group of independent experts you suggested – hopefully we can get together on this, already during the first couple of months in 2016!