Fujitsu proposes tech solution for ‘free-flowing’ Irish border

Written by Sam Trendall on 6 February 2019 in News

IT company reveals it is ‘looking to validate as a viable solution’ a proposal based on GPS and geofencing

Credit: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP/Press Association Images

Fujitsu is to test proposals for a technology platform it believes could “allow an open free-flowing border” on the island of Ireland.

report in The Sun claims that ministers and officials at the Department for Exiting the European Union have been considering the tech firm’s proposals for a “drive-through border”. Documents leaked to the newspaper show that this proposal involves a web portal for registering the planned journeys of goods to be transported over the border. The portal would also reportedly allow users to pay any necessary fees and levies.

It would be linked to a mobile app, through which drivers could accept jobs. This would then kickstart GPS tracking of the journey – which would continue until the job was completed.

At the border itself, GPS would be supplemented by geofencing technology alerting customs authorities to a vehicle’s border crossing, according to the documents obtained by The Sun.

In a statement issued to PublicTechnology, Fujitsu said that its proposals do not include the use of any cameras – contrary to the newspaper’s claim that automatic number plate recognition technology would be used to monitor vehicles.

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“Fujitsu is committed to using innovation to solve major challenges faced by our customers and society,” a spokesperson said. “With decades of experience working with the UK and other governments on customs and borders we have been developing a proof-of-concept to keep the border flowing following the UK’s exit from the European Union.”

They added: “We have continued to develop our Drive Through Border concept in relation to the Northern Irish Border which we are looking to validate as a viable solution to allow an open free flowing border.”

The Sun’s article claimed that Fujitsu’s plan includes proposals for artificial intelligence to be used to help officials spot suspicious vehicles. This will reportedly involve analysis of journeys, in addition to other online data – including posts on social media sites.

A DExEU statement told the newspaper: “Throughout this process the government has explored options with firms and experts for proposals to solve the issue of the Irish border. As the Political Declaration makes clear, the UK and the EU have committed to exploring what alternative arrangements to the backstop might look like. We are also clear that those solutions can not include new border infrastructures.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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