Track and Trace your container with Transnet’s Spotlight App

TNPA SpotlightTransnet’s new Spotlight App enables its customers to Track and Trace their containers, adding a valuable service to assist with their day to day planning, to increase operational efficiency.

Available on Android and Apple devices, current features include “Track and Trace”, which is not only focused on containers, but also extended to trucks and vessels. Track and Trace extends across all Transnet Terminals and TFR Navis Facilities.

Soon to be released features will enable our customers to be notified of any operational changes in the various Transnet Terminals, from weather conditions to any congestion issues.  In addition, the “Register Me” feature will enable Transnet to send customers personalised information regarding their specific consignments.

The Transnet Spotlight App is in line with Transnet’s MDS pillars, being Admired, Digital, Agile and Value, Transnet Spotlight is the only app in the industry that provides status of consignments across all Shipping Lines.  Future releases will extend to other industries. Source: Transnet.co.za

Big Brother is here and his name is PRISM

Picture credit - Gismag.com

Picture credit – Gizmag.com

First came news from The Guardian that the NSA was collecting phone records from millions of Verizon customers under a top-secret government order:  “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top-secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

Then, in the last few hours, more layers were peeled back by The Washington Post:  “The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.”

The story continues to list the companies who allegedly gave the US government unfettered access to customer data (emphasis is ours): “Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: ‘Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

According to a series of alleged PowerPoint slides obtained by The Washington Post, Microsoft was the first to join the program, in September of 2007. The most recent addition was Apple, in October of 2012. Dropbox is reportedly “coming soon.”

Interestingly, most of the companies named are responding to requests for comment by flat-out denying awareness or involvement. According to The Next Web, Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and Yahoo have all denied participation. PRISM reportedly began collecting data in 2007, which means it was introduced under President Bush. However, The Washington Post says the program has experienced “exponential growth” under the Obama administration.

Video: The U.S. goverment is accessing top Internet companies’ servers to track foreign targets. Reporter Barton Gellman talks about the source who revealed this top-secret information and how he believes his whistleblowing was worth whatever consequences are ahead.

Video: The U.S. goverment is accessing top Internet companies’ servers to track foreign targets. Reporter Barton Gellman talks about the source who revealed this top-secret information and how he believes his whistleblowing was worth whatever consequences are ahead.

The slides reveal an annual budget of US$20 million for the program with data monitored by the program including e-mails, instant messages, videos, photos, stored data (presumably in the cloud), voice chats, file transfers, video conferences, log-in times, and social network profile details. Although the program is supposedly aimed at surveillance of foreign targets, such as spies and terrorists, and is intended to take advantage of the fact that most of the world’s data flows through the US, it is inevitable that data of US citizens is caught up in the mix. The NSA Powerpoint slides describe this as “incidental.”

It shouldn’t be too shocking that the US government spies on its citizens. What may be more surprising is just how far-reaching, and possibly unconstitutional, this program is. Perhaps the most significant part will be the fallout now that the secrets are out in the open.

Recent developments concerning customs data exchange via “cloud-type” mediums will therefore come under more scrutiny given current revelations in the US. It serves little purpose for countries to agree on data confidentiality and unwittingly (?) make such data available for ‘harvesting’ via third-party technology providers. Let this come as a fore-warning to governments.

Sources: The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Next Web, and Gizmag.

Mobile Customs Control – Great minds think alike

Beitbridge inspection area6 December 2010 saw the rollout of a new electronic tool for customs inspectors at Beitbridge border post. The need for a hand-held device was identified following the rollout of a new workflow system, called Service Manager, to various Customs offices over the past few months. Although the changes introduced recently were aimed at moving Customs to a totally paperless environment, customs inspectors still had to print out their instructions on paper, manually write down the inspection results and then recapture these onto the system back in the office.

The use of an iPod by a Customs officer to conduct a physical inspection at Beitbridge this week introduces significant enhancements over the previous manual process. SARS has been liaising with iPod experts in various countries around the world over the past few months to develop this function and procure the devices.

The solution comprises an Apple iPod Touch which has been configured to operate SARS’ automated inspection workflow application – Service Manager. The introduction of a hand-held device therefore means that all the functions of Service Manager are now at the inspector’s finger-tips. Inspectors receive their instructions on the iPod, capture the results and make recommendations which then go to the finalisation/adjustment inspector. They can even take photographs with the iPod if they need further clarification on the goods they are inspecting. Inspectors no longer have to go back and forth to the office and their next job can be assigned to them on the spot. This is expected to substantially reduce the time spent on physical inspections and minimise human error.

Initially 34 iPods were procured for Beitbridge, WiFi technology was made available at the port and training of affected staff undertaken. All physical inspections at Beitbridge were being conducted with iPods and will be rolled out to the other Customs border posts throughout 2012.

While SARS’ solution is the first known Apple solution of its kind, similar solutions have been introduced recently within the US Bureau for Customs and Border Control and the Australian Border Control Agency offering varying types of functionality, including the integration of RFID technology by the Australians to monitor and track cargo movements. Life for Customs officers is a whole different and will continue to evolve if it expects to remain in touch with modern era fraud and scams.