The future of public services: digital borders

Document type
Report
Author(s)
Borrows, Maisie; Hitchcock, Alexander
Publisher
Reform
Date of publication
3 July 2017
Subject(s)
Social Policy
Collection
Social welfare
Material type
Reports

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This report looks at the transformative role technology will play in the future delivery of public services.

The UK is an increasingly popular place to trade and visit. This is a good thing, but must be matched by a border capable of securely processing visitors and efficiently facilitating trade. Leaving the EU customs union would quadruple the number of customs checks required at the border – to 390 million a year. The number of people travelling to the UK each year – currently 123 million – is set to double by 2050.

Better information sharing and technology is required to meet traveller demands. Receiving passenger information before people board planes, trains or boats leaving for the UK can help border forces more quickly process passengers – through facial-recognition e-gates, for example. Better information can also stop suspect travellers entering the country, even before they leave countries to travel. In 2015, fewer than one third of people refused access to the UK were done so before they travelled.

Sharing data through new technology can improve the efficiency and security of trade entering the UK. Some of this is still paper based. Digital portals, with real-time information sharing through Internet of Things censors, can provide details of travel routes and cargo status – allowing border forces to more accurately target suspect cargo. This can cut some inspection times from six hours to 12 minutes. It could also improve tax receipts: between 2013 and 2016 the UK underestimated the volume of Chinese textiles entering the country, losing €2 billion of tax receipts.

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