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Modern Ports Showcase the Future of Smart Customs

By Li Yiying, Customs & Taxation Solution Sales, Global Government Business Unit, Enterprise Business Group,Huawei

Smart Customs: A New Phase of Port Modernization

Digital technologies constantly create different business forms and even new industries; in fact, it's not an overstatement to say that they're reshaping the global economic structure. Meanwhile, to reconstruct its own governance sys-tems, the international customs community is counting on intelligence, with customs authorities aiming to digitally transform by applying smart technolo-gies.

That process is clearly underway at Liantang Port, which connects the bustling metropolis of Shenzhen and nearby Hong Kong — with nearly 10,000 vehicles traveling back and forth every day — ensuring goods transportation between the two places remains uninterrupted, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Liantang's strengths is its one-stop port information system, which en-ables vehicles to be inspected and cleared to cross the border with just one visit to a single checkpoint, rather than submitting multiple documents at sev-eral checkpoints, as drivers have to do at less technologically advanced ports. Of course, this system slashes the customs clearance period, ensuring the supply of materials to Hong Kong remains stable.

An archetypal modern port, Liantang applies digital processing, automatic op-erations, and intelligent devices to provide better customs clearance services, allowing personnel and goods to move freely throughout the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Many of these functions at Liantang are supported by Huawei's products and solutions. And based on the company's in-depth involvement in and under-standing of customs digitalization — from its experience in Shenzhen, and fur-ther afield — as well as the characteristics and functional requirements of cus-toms business, Huawei has identified the pertinent points of smart customs construction from a technology enablement perspective and devised four guid-ing principles.

1 Center: Building a People-Oriented Ecosystem

To modernize customs, support individuals and businesses, and increase business engagement, a people-oriented approach is needed. Essentially, this means that — to ensure long-term, sustainable development — customs au-thorities should coordinate border departments and supply chain stakeholders to build a customs ecosystem; establish an effective and convenient infor-mation exchange mechanism; and work together to construct a people-oriented, resilient, and sustainable supply chain.

2 Roles: Enhancing Supervision and Optimizing Services

The role of customs is shifting — moving from simply collecting tariffs, imple-menting foreign trade policies and regulations, and protecting national interests toward a role characterized by more diversified functions, with equal emphasis on management and services.

By adjusting its own positioning through collaboration with partners in the in-dustry ecosystem, customs addresses the conflicts that arise when trying to balance demand for careful supervision with that for swift services, and is switching its focus from a fixation on outcomes to improving the entire opera-tion process. We're already seeing signs of this shift, with customs accelerat-ing the digitalization process of its ecosystem to realize the symbiotic devel-opment of business scenarios, and gradually replacing empirical decision-making with scientific decision-making based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) data analysis.

3 Objectives: Security, Efficiency, and Collaboration

Security: > The construction security of smart customs is both the basis and the bottom line of all objectives. Non-contact inspection helps implement effective pandemic control measures. The customs private network and e-Government cloud ensure data and network security. Electronic container locks are used to ensure supply chain security.

Efficiency: The time of goods release is a key indicator of customs clearance efficiency at ports as well as the level of trade facilitation. There are several key aims here: to continuously improve the customs clearance process and mechanisms in order to reduce costs, to focus on improving the intelligence and reducing the customs clearance time at ports, and to increase the online application review rate to simplify the service process for enterprises through data-sharing.

Collaboration:Customs departments of various countries and regions, as well as other par-ties in the global supply chain, need to work together closer to establish a global e-customs network based on ICT, adopt digital authentication to elimi-nate information security risks during data exchanges, and achieve real-time intelligent and interconnected collaboration. Also important here is breaking down information silos to gradually achieve an interconnection of customs across the globe.

4 Changes: Changes in Mindset, Mechanism, Method, and Model

As the most important link in the global trade chain, customs involves complex services and processes, and has great data analysis and application demands, so digital transformation is urgently needed. The digital transformation of cus-toms is supported by new ICT, and it applies innovative ideas, mechanisms, methods, and technologies to transform the model to cope with the challenges brought by trade volume growth and the pressure of pandemic control.

The first of these changes is to innovate global concepts in customs regulation and governance in order to promote international cooperation and create an inclusive economic environment.

The second change is to optimize and innovate trade and border management systems, achieve network interconnection, system interconnection, and data sharing, gradually reduce management and compliance costs, and significantly improve work efficiency.

The third of the changes concerns adapting methods and processes and using advanced technologies to alleviate the shortage of human resources as well as scientifically assessing how to support the development of customs services through digital tools and means.

Finally, the fourth change entails updating customs management modes and ensuring network coverage is optimal (based on cloud computing), facilitating data sharing and leading the transformation of customs strategies and man-agement models.

All-Scenario Connectivity: Making Cross-border Trade Easier and More Secure

The objective of smart customs is to minimize the resources consumed, in-cluding customs clearance time and costs, while managing inbound and out-bound goods and vehicles —achieving efficient, convenient, and economical customs clearance. This will promote trade facilitation, ensure supply chain security, and maintain a free trade system and an open world economy.

Huawei's port modernization solution connects IT systems within the customs ecosystem to form an efficient data connection channel, and implements con-nectivity among the port, the command center, and the General Administration of Customs.

In customs supervision, security takes priority: It's crucial for customs to fulfill its duty as a 'gatekeeper' to prevent illegal goods from crossing a border. To aid this objective, Huawei provides an intelligent checkpoint (sometimes known as iGate) as well as smart inspection and supervision solutions that implement transparent law enforcement, a customs clearance process that officials can have a global view of, and standard processes — ensuring illegal goods can't cross the border.

As well as smart inspection, the customs supervision and command center is built based on the converged communications platform. It integrates video, da-ta statistics, and Geographic Information System (GIS) for visualized com-mand on one map, implementing remote command for cross-region and cross-department emergency response and smuggling suppression. On-site audio and video information enables decision-makers to make correct decisions quickly.

One-Code Clearance: Making Cross-Border Trade Easier

Many ports have complicated customs clearance processes and rely on man-ual review and release, which is time-consuming and inefficient. When inbound and outbound trucks enter these ports, drivers need to queue up to submit cer-tificates and paper declarations documents. Customs officers then manually approve and release the trucks, and it takes 10 to 20 minutes for each vehicle to pass through the checkpoint.

Making matters worse, the traditional, paper-based customs clearance process can't foresee problems, so it's difficult to tell how many vehicles or containers are coming to carry out undifferentiated manual checks (when the driver needs to drive up to the checking area regardless of the result of the checkpoint in-formation verification). Drivers typically need to wait for two to three days. With the growth of trade volume, the throughput pressure at checkpoints is also in-creasing, and causing port security to become more challenging. With no intel-ligent release equipment or supervision system, supervisors can't get a good grasp of the situation in real time. Compounding the problem, the cross-level coordination capability is poor, and no unified scheduling is available. Naturally, this means violations can't be handled efficiently.

To address such issues, Huawei works with partners to provide a one-stop in-formation platform that facilitates customs declaration by individuals and en-terprises, improves declaration efficiency, and reduces enterprise costs. It also offers one-stop customs clearance for vehicles. Drivers only need to stop once, improving the customs clearance efficiency and reducing the pressure on customs inspectors. /p>

At the customs clearance site, the intelligent checkpoint is equipped with a self-service customs clearance appliance (including a built-in infrared ther-mometer, Quick Response (QR) code scanning, interactive guidance, and vid-eo intercom), license plate recognition system, and container number recogni-tion system — ensuring the security and efficiency of customs clearance. Each person and each vehicle is assigned a code to collect the reserved clearance information, license plate number, and container number. Drivers passing through customs can use the code for self-service (rather than having to wait for customs officers to serve them), significantly reducing the clearance period.

Freight drivers traveling between Shenzhen and Hong Kong can fill in their de-tails (such as their name and contact number) and declare transportation in-formation online after receiving a work order. Once online approval is granted, a QR code is generated as a voucher for customs clearance. When the driver arrives at the port, all he has to do to pass through is scan the QR code, which only takes a few seconds.

Through process transformation and technical support, this single-code pro-cess allows customs clearance to go paperless. As well as the obvious reduc-tion in border sites' manpower needs, this will also help suppress smuggling and reduce tax losses. The overall impact, then, is lower operation costs, higher customs clearance efficiency, and easier trade.

One-Screen Global Supervision: Making Cross-Border Trade More Se-cure

To optimize multi-system and multi-screen supervision at customs, the Huawei Augmented Reality (AR) Panoramic Supervision Service Platform uses tech-nologies such as 5G, AR, Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to build a customs supervision map based on video images, and it implements a new single-screen global supervision model to fa-cilitate more effective and efficient customs management, realizing convenient clearance and all-around supervision.

The platform connects the internal operation systems of customs with external interaction systems; integrates system resources and business data; forms a business chain; extracts customs supervision data, resources, and scenarios; and implements real-world positioning, hashtag-based identification (for exam-ple, #Building A, #Driver B, and so on) on a digital map, and intelligent applica-tion on video-based maps.

The system uses a video-based map and connects front-end sensing devices — such as high-altitude cameras, low-altitude cameras, and supervision facili-ties — to ensure panoramic video and image coverage as well as allowing us-ers to focus on a specific area, making it easier to integrate multiple services and generate contingency plans for early warning of problems. In the event of an exception or an emergency, the command center can quickly link up loca-tion information and automatic video tracking to efficiently locate and identify a potential problem, so that staff can immediately be dispatched to deal with it.

Using this solution, Huawei aims to advocate preventive control in customs supervision, and — based on customs logistics supervision and container stor-age management — collect data on key logistics nodes, such as entry and ex-it, docking, shifting, goods being loaded and unloaded as well as being moved in and out of customs supervision areas. Then, a precise logistics chain visual-ization system is built for the goods stacked within the supervision area.

If there's an emergency, the command center can instantly communicate with onsite customs officers via the converged communications platform — using video or audio — improving back-end collaboration capabilities. Once the op-eration is complete, the platform can record each step of the handling process in detail, automatically sort out the events, archive them for future backtrack-ing, generate a written report for each supervision unit and department to re-view the events, and then optimize work procedures and contingency plans.

Using the latest technologies, the AR Panoramic Supervision Service Platform integrates real-life customs supervision scenarios with the onsite operation service flow, data flow, and information flow; using video images, provides a visual representation of otherwise abstract concepts, such as supervision ser-vices; and establishes a unified service entry to integrate system data and fa-cilitate smart customs construction — ultimately making trade more secure.

Prioritizing innovation and transformation, Huawei has built an intelligent cus-toms hub based on a cloud platform and a big data platform. It carries intelli-gent customs applications and collaborates with border ports. It also uses the latest technologies, such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6, to digitally transform ports and intelligently upgrade border devices. And there's more to come: Using technol-ogy, we will continue to help customs worldwide increase supply chain resili-ence, improve the business environment, and help to facilitate global trade.

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