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Author's profile photo Mark Holder


Never before has the strategy and policy of the European Union and its borders been under so much pressure as in 2015. The events of the last few months and the threat that continues to exist and grow will test that strategy, vision and principle to the limit.

The SMARTERBORDERS Conference in London 23rd to 25th November 2015 reflected very heavily on these events and the theme ‘Encouraging Interopability and cooperatioon at the border’ was to say the least an apt and relevant strapline.

As with every post mortem of any incident large or small it is easy to reflect on hindsight. But a common theme on failure point is more than often collaboration around information.


Failure points run through the so-called ‘value chain’ on collaboration. Where are the weak points? Where can the threat be detected earlier? How can we break down the barriers of collaboration whilst maintaining the legal and protective elements of the legislation that exists to protect us?

Technology cannot dicate the rules and laws of course !! But used in the right way can enable us to collaborate, adapt and respond in real time.

The status of Schengan is a hot topic across the news on a daily basis and the diversification of opinion in the conference reflected the full range of those views. the common opinion was that technology will be required to support the core principle of an open Europe. Meaning free movement of people and trade within the union.

With collaboration as the biggest challange that exists in any border related activity there was much debate on the scope of the root cause. The key messages in the discussions and panels were:

     1. Lack of investment in resources and technology, proliferation of data in all forms across all member states

     2. Lack of standards across all member stattes and complex data privacy laws in each member state

Now as a technology company SAP is not in a position to change legislation but we can provide solutions on a platform that is both flexible and adaptable to accommodate rapid transformation.

We live in a world that is going to be increasingly connected. This will disrupt all the established rules that exist around all channels of communication. It will exceed all known limits of computing power.

As we drive for better outcomes the cloud will become increasingly important as we try to move a lightning speed to eliminate the barriers to collaboration. Additionally, the rise of the Internet of Connected Things with people and processes will increase our ability to react and remain secure.

Cyber threat defines the border and borderless society. We live within the physical borders of our countries, but also within our work and society and personal boundaries.

If a key element of the conference was:-


Then we must tie in the cyber threat accordingly

This moves border security into a whole new dimension. Whether threat to our environment by infecting how we manage our physical security, think about the effect of a hacked ‘entry/exit’ system or an affected air traffic control system or an attack on our power, banking or communication networks.

To understand more about the value chain that could support border management into the digital age it makes sense to understand the priority of the BEFORE, AT and AFTER the border. Again the theme is better collaboration. This is about utilising every element of intelligence to prevent the threat, whether that is the movement of illicit goods, criminal intent or purveyors of threat.

We see that countries and jurisdictions cannot cope with just ‘resources’ to manage the situation but require the sophisticated collaboration that only technology can provide. It this the dynamic combination of the two

To reiterate the challanges shared at the conference. Wherever there is a border, there is a requirement to let trade and people move through in the most efficient manner whilst providing the deepest checks and balances to ensure that speed does not compremise safety. This is why the before the border processes can ease the challange at the border. Whether that being efficient and collaborative passenger pre-checks or the ability to turn data from many sources into actionable intelligence to predict and pre-empt threat.

The key is collaboration and data, but not just structured data from traditional sources but intelligence from the combination of scocial media, sensors and machine data.

After the borders is not just about reacting to events and actions not detected before or at the border but its also the intelligence loop that feeds back into the before the border processes.

We are not suggesting that these challenges are unknown or new its just that technology in the past could not provide the solutions required at the the speed and agility required today.

This is not the case today – the technology now exists and those that perpetrate the threat are using that technology today and we as defenders of the threat need to embrace that technology to ensure that we keep one step ahead of them especially as ourborderless society becomes even more extended.

As criminals and terrorists migrate between the real and virtual worlds, intelligence and border management agencies, the police and other law enforcement agencies will have to keep pace. Public service organisations need to provide a “citizen centric” experience to those thay protect by collaborating with them in fighting crime and delivering ontheir legislative mandates.

As public service organisations, law enforcement and intelligence agencies work to meet these rising citizen expecations, officers cannot afford to fall behind in this ever-changing landscape of the Internet of Things and innovative technologies

We have to ask ourselves… are we really utilising those technologies to support these major challanges, do we really understand how we can utilise the data available to provide actionable intelligence in a fully trusted and secure fashion

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SAP’s leading innovations and digital solutions, such as SAP Real-Time Situational Awareness on our in-memory platform HANA, reflect the need of government agencies everywhere to drive down ICT costs, optimise operational intelligence and leverage digital technologies to keep up with the threat in the real and virtual world

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