Border Force throws out paper for parcel clearances

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Border Force throws out paper for parcel clearances
(Source: Microsoft)

Mobile app eliminates up to 40 air cargo forms.

The Australian Border Force says it has cut down the time it takes to clear international parcels by up to a day thanks to a new app that digitises the paperwork required for air cargo checks.

ABF officers visit mail depots each day to run checks on the roughly 170 million air cargo consignments sent via Australia Post, plus more from private couriers, every year.

But the old process was completely manual and could leave an officer with as many as 40 different forms to fill out by hand. They'd then need to re-enter the data into the agency’s systems once they got back to the office.

“This process was incredibly time consuming for our officers,” Immigration CIO Randall Brugeaud said in a statement.

The ABF already had an undisclosed number of Microsoft Surface Pros in circulation, so decided to create a mobile app that would digitise this process and cut out duplication.

It called in SMS Management and Consulting, working with Microsoft and internal staff, to build the eBorderForce app, using Microsoft Dynamics 365 as its backend and  Azure for hosting.

The test and build took roughly six months, and officers can now fill out their forms online, on site, and contact team members in the field using Skype for Business,  with all data transmitted across the ABF’s own private network.

The app also leverages the device's inbuilt camera so officers can capture and record images of their checks.

ABF boasts the app is saving officers around 100 hours a week compared to the old paper-based process.

It did not detail how many of its officers were equipped with the Surface devices and eBorderForce app. The department has been contacted for detail.

“Officers now have up to two hours extra a day thanks to eBorderForce. What’s more, the streamlined approach means cleared parcels are able to be delivered much faster,” Immigration's assistant secretary for operation capability Anthony Corbitt said in a statement.

The ABF has expanded the rollout to its sea cargo operations and seven international airports across the country.

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