"One of our strategies in the interim is to stitch together a thin veneer over our legacy systems through the use of mobile applications. This will allow us to join together systems that would traditionally have seen field officers manually entering data into multiple sources."
Big data intelligence
At Customs, Brugeaud's vision is to create a 'connected information environment', joining up air cargo, sea cargo and international mail in order to make correlations and gain better intelligence through advanced analytical capabilities.
"It's moving from an environment where we're able to identify all the things that might be of interest and join these up using natural language capabilities," he says.
"We'd like to be able to ask questions and have our connected information environment provide answers to those questions. This moves us beyond a simple rule-based environment to a far more advanced paradigm underpinned by a far richer set of data."
CIO of Customs, Rachel Noble, says the point is to take the noise out of the system and find anomalies so officers only intervene at the border when it's necessary.
"We try to only intervene at the border when we have intelligence that might lead us to have concerns about the person or the goods. That, to us, is the most efficient way to run a border; where you intervene only when it's necessary," she says.
"We work with domestic and international partners to understand who is on which aircraft coming into Australia. This means we know ahead of the plane landing if there is someone a domestic agency within Australia might want to talk to. That means people who are legitimate travellers can move very quickly through our border processing control points."
Noble says the amount of travellers to and from Australia is expected to grow exponentially over coming years, with air cargo alone expected to grow by 85 per cent by 2016-17. "If we thought we have a lot of information and data that we need to make sense of now from a business outcome point of view, boy are we going to be challenged in a pretty short time," she claims.
To keep up, Customs is looking to automate departures through a process similar to SmartGates for arrivals. A tender process has been completed, with field-based testing to be conducted in Brisbane International Airport later this year.
"It's about technology having fewer moving parts, less systems, more integrated data in real time, more automation and less manual intervention," says Brugeaud. "That means having machines and technology to support high volume, low value activities, freeing up our officers to do things that are better done by a human being.
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