The Border 5/Migration 5 is a partnership between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States aimed at strengthening international cooperation and coordination on border security. Sonny Bhagowalia, Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Information and Technology Office, is the U.S. delegation leader for the CBP B5M5 CIO Tech Forum, which is a subsection of B5M5’s global engagement focused on technology related to border security and immigration. .
The ILO has produced the FY 2020-FY 2024 Technology Strategy Document to guide the efforts of the B5M5 CIO Tech Forum to deliver scalable, efficient and cost-effective technology that enables continuous and secure access to data among members. The forum continues to work together to develop a Five Eyes technology collaboration strategy to leverage each other’s investments, develop emerging technologies as needed, and build capacity to share information on the six technologies. These include digitization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, biometrics, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and distributed ledger technology (blockchain).
The Future Border strategic plan, which calls on the B5M5 to implement a contactless border by 2030, guides this strategy. It ensures a seamless continuum of travelers between members. The strategy document identifies emerging technologies that countries can leverage in their quest for a contactless border, establishes common standards to facilitate better data sharing and system integration, and identifies key trends, threats and the joint resolutions of the information and technology offices of each B5M5 agency. will face in the coming year.
While this plan guides the Tech Forum’s efforts and helps prioritize resolutions, it is also broad enough to allow the international body to address opportunities and challenges as they arise, such as the secure sharing of information and a joint approach to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the effort to better share data between Five Eye countries, the CIO Tech Forum has also formed the One-Stop Shop Working Group to create a “one-stop shop” through which partner countries can view each other’s immigration and customs datasets. The expected benefits of a single window among partner countries for commodity data include increased compliance, reduced processing times, shared risk identification, increased digitalization, transparency for industry and overall reduction in trade costs. In an effort to determine how to integrate each country’s one-stop-shop platform into a central repository and to work on the possibility of eventual integration, the SWWG decided to use COVID-19 related products as proof of concept.
The SWWG focused on products of interest related to COVID-19, such as medical supplies, cleaning and disinfecting products, personal care products and personal protective equipment for data exchanges on basic products. These exercises were used to assess the usefulness of data sharing between the B5M5 and potential applications. By focusing on the data sharing components for a small set of data, the SWWG was able to determine the overall feasibility of harmonized data sharing for the products identified between the Five. The group’s analysis has proven that it is possible to exchange import and export data for specific products using common codes and using the international standard as a basis. However, further analysis and stakeholder engagement will be required to determine the true benefits of data sharing among the five countries. By demonstrating the feasibility of sharing datasets with low-risk products such as personal protective equipment, the SWWG demonstrated the potential for harmonizing datasets for more critical products.
The United States participated in a series of 90-minute in-depth studies in which participating countries gave presentations on topics such as approaches to vaccine certification for arriving passengers, new technological developments to improve traveler facilitation and reduce wait times, contemporary cybersecurity concerns and trade facilitation. The deep dives give each partner country the opportunity to share their approach and perspectives in different technological areas. During the in-depth dives, each partner country provided a 10-minute presentation on their efforts and lessons learned, followed by a discussion. Future in-depth sessions are planned and will cover a variety of relevant and timely topics.
The entire B5M5 CIO Tech Forum will continue to provide opportunities for communication and relationship building among Five Eye countries with a focus on using technology to enhance common interests.