01 December 2014

Iris Slider

In the interconnected world of today, managing risks in the Customs context has become increasingly challenging.  Good risk management and sound decision-making benefit tremendously from solid information and analysis that provide situational awareness to decision-makers. Open sources, such as the Internet, can include significant useful information for Customs administrations. Even if many WCO Members already exploit such tools at the national level, no international instrument exists which would allow Customs-related information to be collected and made available in one place.  To address this void and to provide its Members with a new type of service, the WCO – created the “Iris” - application.

The “Iris” application is a Web-based “news aggregator” (the “Iris”) which will gather Customs-related open-source information on a 24/7/365 basis, present the information on a graphical world map, and store the items for later analysis on a specific database.  The tool also includes capacity to alert audiences regarding major Customs seizures that have been reported to the CEN Database and/or to the Global Shield application (the particular seizure information will not be reported but a notice, or pointer, will be displayed, together with a link to access the information in the pertinent WCO system).

The key audiences for the WCO Iris application include all Customs staff ranging from Directors General to intelligence analysts, targeters, and operational front-line officers.  For senior Customs managers, the application will provide situational awareness about the Customs operating environment, both internationally and nationally.  Operational Customs staff will benefit through having an access to open-source information, which alongside other national intelligence gathering, can contribute to more effective and targeted Customs controls at the borders.

In addition to Customs audiences, some of the “Iris” functionality will also be made available to the WCO’s partners, including the private sector, academia, and other international organizations.  In this regard, the medium- to long-term goal of “Iris” is to position the WCO as the hub for global Customs and border-related information sharing, and to raise awareness about the work of the WCO.

The “Iris” application uses Web-crawlers to glean Customs-related news information from open sources (English and French sources in its first iteration).  The crawlers operate on key words and scan through a pre-determined set of information sources.  Information is currently collected on the following categories : Generic Customs Matters; Tariff and Trade Affairs; Revenue Assurance; Drugs Enforcement; Capacity Building; Procedures and Facilitation; IPR Enforcement; Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs); Environmental Crime; and Security.  The system is flexible to allow inclusion of any new topics and sources that are of interest to the global Customs community.

Please click here to access the Iris. In order to be able to access the WCO Members’ area (restricted to Members only), Customs users are requested to connect through the “Connect” button and use their WCO Members’ Web site log-on and password for accessing the system (persons without access to the WCO Members’ Web site will not be able to access the Members’ area; in order to obtain a log-on and password for WCO Members’ Website, please contact webpublish[at] for more information).