One of the oft-referred-to solutions to the "Backstop" in the context of the leaving agreement arranged between the Conservative government and the EU is a technical solution. However, beyond poorly explained assertions as to the feasibility of this solution, so far, the government has not issued a proposal nor provided an demonstrations to show how this could work.
Paradoxically, it would seem that the most advanced work on this type of "solution" was first analyzed at the European Commission Information Technology and Telecommunications Task Force (ITTTF) programme preparation work for advanced IT applications during 1984 through 1987 in Brussels. The concept of "borderless frontier systems", or BFS was reviewed to investigate the possibility of facilitating customs and other arrangements on borders so as to reduce congestion and even remove the need for border inspections of goods in transit. Agricultural cooperative panel members were particularly interested in this development as were logistics companies. According to participants, the concepts of mobiles (identical to smart phones) were discussed at that time with the idea of linking mobile navigation systems on vehicles to consignment content management systems to facilitate the collection of detailed information on transborder cargoes based on mobile radio frequencies. More amazingly, this team undertook global market projection analyses which predicted, with some precision, the rise of China as the most likely country to advance ahead of other countries, in the use and development of these capabilities. This specific topic has become popular again with the advent of 5G systems where Chinese manufacturers have established a significant global technological leadership edge.
In the context of the notorious "Backstop" it would seem that a variant on such a system is what is required.
In order to model the information system requirements it is necessary to apply "locational-state theory" (LST) which feeds a so-called "data reference model" (DRM) first of all as a proof of concept and then basis for prototype systems implementation using state-of-the-art technologies. LST had its origins in the ITTTF work with the first ever reference to locational-state made in documents circulated amongst the teams working on the advanced systems programme at the ITTTF in 1985.
Although the Commission team was disbanded in 1987, the team coordinator moved to SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab1 in the UK. SEEL has since remained the main centre for the development of locational state theory (LST) and its applications. SEEL subsequently developed traceability systems for agricultural produce, consignment management systems and have advanced LST and applications across an array of sectors. The basis for a trouble-free and coordinated functioning of a BFS remains LST.
In functional terms this system works on the basis of tagging, that is, connecting a remotely monitorable identity to everything that moves over a border. What moves over borders includes goods, manufactured products, animals, commodities and feedstocks, vehicles, fuel and people. Many tags already exist in the form of bar codes, people's passports, vehicle registration data and ear tags on live animals. So the basic concept of the role of tagging is easily understood. However, since 1987, the handling of goods over borders within the EU enabling a radical reductions in stoppages and inspections has been improved within the terms of the so-called Acquis regulations related to health and security and quality standards. These systems, like the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agricultural information systems have so-called "risk logic" that is used to assess the risk of non-compliance with the law/standards regulations according to the configuration of the locational state variables associated with any consignment. In this way by linking prior veterinary inspections to ear-tagged animals before they are transported anywhere, is a means of ensuring controls on the spread of specific diseases as a result of transportation of animals over borders. Accordingly, a lot of the necessary inspection of transported goods does not take place on borders, thereby maintaining the flow of goods.
1 SEEL is the systems development division of The George Boole Foundation Limited