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2016 WCO IT Conference & Exhibition, 1-3 June, Dakar, Senegal

09 junio 2016

Digital Customs: Accelerating Connectivity – Bridging the Divide

The closing of the 15th IT Conference & Exhibition (IT Conference) concluded that over 750 delegates from Customs, other government authorities, private sector, international organizations, development partners, academia and other stakeholders took part in this premium external event of the World Customs Organization which opens its doors every year to its many partners around the world.

The 2016 ITC showcased private sector and Governments’ most recent technological developments that will provide new capabilities and opportunities and impact how Customs facilitates trade and performs its regulatory tasks. Over 65 speakers gathered to share their knowledge and experience on numerous ICT-related topics. The Conference discussed various strategic issues as part of ICT-enabled modernization efforts, such as leadership, communication, interconnectivity, innovation, governance and training.

The first session on interconnectivity discussed modern IT solutions and technologies required for increasing interconnectivity to facilitate the flow of goods, people and information across borders. It looked into how standards such as the WCO Data Model can contribute to this goal, but also into the relevance of data quality for exchange of information and the impact of using mobile devices and GPS technologies. It further discussed the legal issues and interoperability challenges.

The Conference explored how use of social media and networks was impacting the image of Customs and whether and how it was improving customer service and facilitating the work of government authorities today. It further looked into how information from social media could be collected and used for risk management i.e. in detecting infringements, as well as what were the implications of misuse of confidential data.

On Leadership, the high-level round table explored modernization as a state of mind and how Governments can align their strategies to the ever-changing digital world of today and tomorrow, as well as how partnerships with the private sector can support government missions in such an environment. It discussed the challenges of continuous political commitment, change management and other important elements for ensuring that governments were not being left behind the technological progress being observed every day. It further addressed e-commerce and whether and how new technology can allow or even impose a different viewpoint for Customs and taxation in that respect. Other points considered included the importance of information technologies for implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, as well as for regional integration.

The Conference discussed Innovation and how latest technological trends are impacting Customs and the business of Governments as a whole. Some of the developments brought up included track & trace solutions, smart log and artificial intelligence for Customs, facial recognition technology and biometrics, use of data analytics, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things.

Under the session on Governance, the speakers looked into the key considerations for ensuring effective, efficient and acceptable current and future use of information technology within organizations. This included discussions on organizational structures, procurement procedures, compliance with the industry and within the organization and co-creation with the private sector, but also elements such as data security, system availability and stability, as well as business process modeling, quality management, system overlap management etc.

The plenary discussions also included a session on Training which sought to identify how knowledge and training can maintain the level of agility in keeping up with the pace at which information technologies progress each day; what are the skills required and how can proper IT training of Customs staff be ensured. It discussed gaps in qualifications and skills, the importance of availability of internet for staff at all times, use of e-learning modules, chat rooms, social media and networks.

The afternoon of Day 2 was devoted to a number of TechTalk streams one of which was focused on developing IT project proposals, another one how research was used for Customs in IT and two more that looked into IT solutions of various stakeholders.

Finally, the host of next year’s ITC announced the holding of the 2017 WCO IT Conference & Exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia, with the date still to be confirmed.

The presentations from the 2016 ITC will soon be uploaded on the event’s web page: http://www.wcoomd.org/en/events/upcoming-events/it-conference-exhibition.aspx For further information on this year’s event you may download the Conference app "WCOIT2016" available for all smart phones including iPhones on Google App Store and Play Store.

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