Why the future of border security lies in smart tech

Since the internet boom started in 1995, the world hasn’t slowed down for a second. We are now moving at a speed where we expect everything to be fast, effective and deliver results instantly.

Technology has indeed come a long way in the last two decades—and it hasn’t even peaked yet.

In recent years, businesses and organisations have prioritised customer-journey mapping and understanding customers’ needs and requirements—because everyone wants things to be done faster and with greater effectiveness. More importantly, customers expect more collaboration between organisations so that we can tap each other’s expertise, which will in turn drive benefits for them.

However, cross-agency collaboration is still very much in its infancy and it needs to be driven with higher buy-in.


Unified File Format (UFF) is a great stepping stone to promote collaboration between agencies. Having an NII UFF common format for transmission of X-ray images and associated data enables and facilitates sharing, which makes collaboration so much easier—and quicker. Imagine receiving the scanned images of a container from Port A which eventually disembarks at your port. And couple this with an intelligent security-operation system that gathers and ingests 100% of data including images. This means you get to inspect the scanned images of the container from Port A without having to run another scan. And this will only result in better allocation and management of resources while still ensuring security standards are in place.

Sharing of scanned images amongst agencies via a standardised format: UFF 2.0

While standardising the image file format is considered one of the first bricks to lay in the grand scheme of a digital transformation, it is nonetheless inadequate when implemented “in silo” if you wish to become a next-generation security operation. As with other emerging technologies, the full potential of a standardised image file format can be reached only when it is used with complementing technologies, as only then can the ripple effect be produced.


With cybersecurity threats on the rise and causing damage more than financial loss, a data breach is something that no organisation ever wishes to face. Collaborating with other agencies without sharing data is possible with dynamic-model machine learning—a super-model that extracts the intelligence from individual streams and models without involving the actual exchange of data. To put it simply, you share behaviour and patterns but never the data. A dynamic model is trained online with data continuously entering the system and incorporated through continuous updates. With a ‘central intelligence’ that continuously analyses these patterns, agencies can leverage the real-time insights that they reach, unlike with a static model where data staleness is a known issue.

Collaborating with other agencies without sharing data but intelligence such as behaviours and patterns. Agencies can leverage real-time insights that the dynamic model arrives at through continuous learning.

As with standardising the use of the UFF format for all X-ray images, sharing intelligence will result in speed and effectiveness, and helps drive collaboration efforts between agencies, thus enhancing your overall operation efficiency.


The real value resides in the data you own and not the systems you’re using or the technologies you’re looking to implement. In fact, technologies should help you leverage the data you have—whether existing or new—to drive better business results for your operations. Data is the currency of the future, but embracing the right facilities and hiring the right people to make it work is not easy for border agencies. One key challenge is the lack of internal skills, where perhaps a team of mathematicians, data scientists and developers needs to be put together specifically for data analytics and algorithm coding. While many struggle to find the right talent pool, agencies can look at outsourcing this function to providers that are skilled to help them with the data.


The border-management landscape has drastically changed compared to how it was before. With the e-commerce boom that resulted in a faster movement of goods, many border agencies’ customers—such as importers—want the agencies to move at a pace that meets their delivery and service expectations. With the increase in the number of containers, border agencies must look at implementing the right technologies to help them meet the demand. But adopting technologies independently might not yield the full potential of what each technology is supposed to deliver. To become an operation that’s truly prepared for the future, geared with accelerated security operations, agencies must look at a digital and business transformation overhaul, and certainly not just adopt technologies in silos.


Because we understand speed, effectiveness and collaboration are highly demanded in the industries we serve, and that every security operation is unique, we created CORSYS—an advanced security management system that performs 100% data inspection and assesses risk all on a single and secure decision-making platform. CORSYS also:

  • Enables better resource management;
  • Optimises your current and future assets;
  • Provides a leverage on your data—both existing and new;
  • Enables better collaboration between agencies via intelligence sharing;
  • Helps futureproof your security operation by harnessing the true capabilities of technology.

CORSYS helps establish an effective cloud policy because it’s built on Microsoft Azure computing services, which also means that you can be sure that the intelligence-sharing paths between agencies are seamless and secure. It balances consistency in your CONOP workflows to help deliver true value to your customers.

For more information on how we can help enhance and transform your security operations, contact us.


A version of the below speech was delivered by Tim Norton at the June 2019 World Customs Organization conference.