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Customs targets social media for open source border security intelligence

Customs targets social media for open source border security intelligence

New software is being sought to boost Customs' ability to identify border security threats

NZ Customs is planning to target social media to identify border security threats.

NZ Customs is planning to target social media to identify border security threats.

Credit: IDG

NZ Customs is planning to use software to trawl through social media posts and other public information to identify border security threats.

Customs is testing the market for intelligence analysis software, incorporating a host of functions including federated search, link analysis, network analysis, data visualisation, case/document management, real-time data and image exploitation and open source search tools, "with a particular focus on social media."

"A solution that does not deliver the full breadth of scope but that is exceptional in one or more areas, and can work seamlessly as part of an overall solution, may still be considered," the agency stated.

Any selected system should help stop importations of prohibited goods and other border offences and also gather intelligence about the people and organisations behind these efforts.

It should also help develop Customs' long-term objectives for the prevention, disruption, dismantling and deterrence of non-compliant and criminal activity on the border.

Furthermore, it should maximise the exploitation of data collected, through richer analysis using a "non-siloed approach" and produce efficiencies in the time taken to manage investigations, undertake analysis and review collection.

Customs aims to develop a "dedicated proactive intelligence and investigations capability", it says - the agency is not looking for big data analytics or business intelligence solutions.

"We would expect an excellent understanding of the former but it is the exploitation of data, in an intelligence context, that is key," the agency adds.

Current search, analytical, reporting, and data/information storage tools available to Customs’ Intelligence, Investigation and Enforcement (II&E) staff are such that analysts are required to undertake time consuming, manual processes in order to search, analyse and visually represent data, it explains.

"The current manual processes limit the effectiveness of the II&E function," it says. "In particular the strategic objectives of: upstream disruption; identification of high value targets; resource prioritisation; and engagement with domestic and overseas partners."

The analysis covers everything from illegal weapons, objectionable material and drugs, to dangerous people and hazardous substances – "anything that might threaten New Zealanders and their livelihoods," Customs says.


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