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The WCO TEG-NII encourages Member Customs administrations to use the Unified File Format in their operations

19 junio 2019

The 5th Meeting of the Technical Experts Group on Non-Intrusive Inspection (TEG-NII) was held on 10-11 June 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan, back-to-back with the 2019 WCO IT/TI Conference & Exhibition. The meeting brought together more than 40 participants from Member Customs administrations and NII Industry members. The TEG-NII discussions were centered around two main topics – the Unified File Format (UFF) Development Programme and other NII-related matters.

In her opening remarks, the Acting Deputy Director, Procedures and Facilitation, Ms. Milena Budimirovic, highlighted the role of NII for ensuring the safety and security of the society, as well as for facilitating legitimate trade. The Acting Deputy Director further outlined the linkages between the work carried out by the TEG-NII and the theme to which the global Customs community has dedicated the year 2019 - “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport”. The development of the UFF, aimed at facilitating interoperability of different NII equipment provided by different manufacturers, contributes to the transformation of frontiers into SMART borders.

In his welcome address, Mr. Javad Gasimov, Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, highlighted the importance of the use of technology and the exchange of NII images among WCO Members for the efficient delivery of the various Customs functions.

During the first day of the Meeting, dedicated to the UFF Development Programme, the TEG-NII discussed the intersessional developments since the 4th TEG-NII Meeting held in December 2018. The Group took note of the feedback from the UFF 2.0 Pilot involving six Member Customs administrations representing four of the WCO regions. The TEG-NII welcomed the endorsement by the SAFE Working Group of a document providing a summary of the UFF 2.0 Technical Specification and the submission of the summary document to the Policy Commission for endorsement at its forthcoming session in June 2019.

The TEG-NII continued the discussions, launched already in December 2018, on the scope and implementation modalities of Phase 3 of the UFF Development Programme. The Group agreed to encourage WCO Members to test and further deploy UFF 2.0 through self-driven, self-managed pilot projects. Guidance material in the form of use cases will be developed, and disseminated by the WCO, to support the implementation of such pilots. A roadmap for Phase 3 will be drafted by the UFF Development Team, comprising experts from the NII vendors involved in the UFF development. The draft Phase 3 roadmap will be discussed by the TEG-NII at its next meeting in the autumn of 2019.

The second day of the meeting provided the opportunity to examine and share experiences on a number of NII-related topics, such as detection capabilities of the various types of NII systems, machine learning and threat detection algorithms, as well as radiation safety. Guatemala’s journey to build the capacity for NII equipment deployment and to establish a framework for exchanging NII images was outlined in a presentation delivered by the Customs administration of Guatemala.

During the discussion on machine learning and threat detection algorithms, the TEG-NII examined a proposal by the EU to launch a WCO-coordinated initiative for standardizing/harmonizing threat detection algorithms and agreed to keep the item on the agenda of the TEG-NII for further consideration.