My World Port Hackathon team, “De Delftse Delegatie”, consisted of Wouter Raateland, Daniël Vos, and myself. During the 24-hour hackathon, we collaborated with experts from the Dutch customs agency to create a prototype of a tool that would allow them to automatically detect smuggling in containers that enter the Rotterdam port. After being the first team to pitch in the primary round, and then the first team to pitch in the finals, the judges unanimously awarded us first place!
Before a ship enters the port of Rotterdam, customs needs to know what cargo to expect to prepare their security checks. Ships are therefore required to send information about all their cargo to customs 24 hours before arriving. Information about the route that the goods have taken, what goods have historically been in a container together, and the exact contents of a package, are all missing.
To greatly increase the amount of information received by customs agencies, and to automatically detect cargo hijacking, our team has designed a digital passport for containers. These passports are stored on a blockchain, which guarantees that the data will stay intact. Another advantage of the blockchain is that copies of it can be stored on the servers of every country for which customs want access. This is useful because it does not require countries to trust each other’s data, only their own.
The passports are stamped every time the doors of their associated containers are opened, just like when you are visiting a distant country and get a stamp in your passport upon arrival. Companies that work with the digital passports are requested to stamp the digital passports with information about all the goods that were found in the associated containers, and then stamp them again with information about all the goods that were put in.
Incentive for companies to work with the new system is that they will receive a trustworthy certificate. This will mean fewer random searches at customs and an overall faster process. Next to productivity improvements, companies will not have to deal with proving that illegal goods were not added to containers by them. In the history of the passport it will be clearly visible in which country suspicious action was taken.
We are currently in talks with the Dutch customs agency, the port of Rotterdam, and a few companies to explore how we will develop our idea further.