Business, Freight News, Logistics

‘No backstop necessary’ says new tech consortium

[ October 9, 2019   //   ]

A British consortium has launched a new system that it says will create a seamless digital border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

ELAND, which has been set up by former British military, technology specialists and hauliers, says it can build a totally secure freight transit system based on digital locking containers, GPS routing records, Blockchain tracking and anti-tampering enforcement. This could remove the requirement for customs checks and a return to a hard border in Ireland that Boris Johnson has suggested may be necessary.

It will also remove the requirement for an Irish backstop in any Brexit deal, potentially breaking the impasse in the current negotiations.

Founder and chief executive Charles Le Gallais – who has held senior positions in Westland, Finmeccanica and Serco – described the solution as: “a bonded warehouse on wheels” capable of cutting the gordian knot of how the UK can both leave the EU and maintain the guarantees set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Goods are loaded onto trucks at the point of origin and sealed both physically, if high value, and virtually using electronic locks with communications and GPS capabilities. Distributed ledger or Blockchain technology would ensure that the loading and sealing records are matched with appropriate customs, point of origin, compliance and if appropriate phyto-sanitary certifications, in a format that prevents tampering.

As the truck’s journey progresses, the virtual blockchain record updates, including the point where GPS enabled geolocation registers that it has crossed the border (or crossed it for the final time, noting the complex shape of the border in some areas).

One-time codes provided to the driver by secure messaging ensure that the electronic lock can only be activated at designated points and by the designated user. Anti-tampering technology ensures that any physical attempt to change the load on its journey will be recorded and flagged for the law-enforcement authorities.

The system can interface with government systems including the EU ‘THYME’ and UK ‘CHIEF’ customs systems. Data can be pre-provided for clearance in transit and the use of electronic systems ensures that registration of import/export occurs at the ‘virtual’ border provided by geo-location, almost certainly faster than could be provided by any physical checks.

The consortium’s backers say that every component of the ELAND solution is proven technology today and the integrated solution will be demonstrable within three months and could be fully implemented within a year.

Project ELAND would track and monitor the 180,000 trucks that cross the internal island of Ireland border each month and it can also be extended to other UK borders including France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.  In these cases, border infrastructure already exists, but ELAND will facilitate the use of ‘Green Lanes’, especially for perishable goods.

Other members of the consortium include McCulla Ireland chairman, Ashley McCulla, financial services technology expert, Steven McCaffrey and Ian Metcalf, formerly with the MoD, Serco and BAE Systems.