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DIGITAL FUTURES: The Future UK Border report

Future proofing the UK border strategy

The UK border and customs will face new challenges over the next 5-10 years that will place increasing pressure on its current infrastructure and will require greater collaboration across Government and Industry to protect UK interests.

The UK border and customs are facing, and will continue to face, unprecedented challenges over the next 5 years that will place increasing pressure on its current infrastructure and will require greater collaboration across Government and Industry to protect UK interests.

As a borders transformation partner of choice, to realise the UK Government’s ambition, the mission needs to be defined, clearly understood and continuously guided.

Our data enabled framework can help guide the journey from strategy to execution to ensure development of the right policies, standards and the pragmatic application of emerging technology.

With clearly defined enablers, the next wave of ‘pre’, ‘at’ and ‘post’ border initiatives can be delivered to enable frictionless experiences for both goods and passengers.

Macro Environment

Recent events have seen countries around the world adapting to new working arrangements and dealing with the fallout of a pandemic that has unexpectedly accelerated the need for frictionless and rigorous processes at the border. In parallel the UK has just completed its withdrawal from the European Union and continues to deliver infrastructure to support the EU Exit post-transition phasing into 2021. Overall UK trade is predicted to be worth £4 trillion by 2050 with 450 million people crossing its borders each year. Against this backdrop of exponential future growth, the free flowing of both goods and people must be seamless to ensure continuity and stability to businesses and the wider economy.


The challenges faced are both visible and invisible. Physical supply chains are becoming increasingly complex with greater transparency being demanded of suppliers in order to create efficient logistical processes – and ensure sustainability. In parallel, organised crime syndicates operating on the dark web look to enter our borders to conduct illicit activities with cyber-crime and trafficking becoming more sophisticated and prevalent than ever before.


We envisage the future as seamless, intuitive and safeguarded against disruption. One that can adapt to enable transformation and the application of emerging technology to meet present and future challenges. Systems will be proactive, not reactive, and fully capable of predicting and planning for the unexpected. Capabilities could include:

Systems that have notification of goods arrivals with all the requisite documents in advance.
Passport control gates that identify individual movements and detect abnormalities.
Vehicle number plate identification and freight scanning for counterfeit or dangerous materials.
Across the border, the Internet of Things (IoT) tracks shipments to their destination and the full journey will be irrevocably logged in a blockchain ledger for total transparency.

We assess the flow of goods and people across borders in three phases: ‘BeforeDuring and After’ the border is crossed.

  • Before the border

Data-driven solutions can help predict and manage flow. The creation of a unified interface, incorporating mobility and customs data across industries, will enable border agencies to access real-time alerts, trigger automated actions and where necessary, make informed interventions.

  • At the border

Quick processing of goods and vehicles will be essential to manage increasing volumes without compromising security – which calls for greater levels of automation.

  • After the border

As goods and people travel on to their final destinations, emerging technology can allow governments and trade bodies to see the journey end-to-end. More companies and consumers now demand greater transparency in order to trace product origins and track the fulfilment of orders, with the application of blockchain technology becoming increasingly utilised. The sustainable credentials of a product can be ratified, transactions and liability tracked – and all relevant information stored securely.

The future

A huge opportunity exists to create more data-driven systems – enabling everything from predictive analytics, data intelligence to personalised customer journeys. This will also mean significant back-office changes and new privacy concerns. With the right combination of co-ordinated focus, accelerated investment, extensive industry collaboration and the application of emerging technologies, the UK can develop a world-leading border by 2025 and beyond.

Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation and is at the forefront of innovation in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms. Capgemini enables organisations to realise their business ambitions through an array of services from strategy to operations.

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