Risk management: an upgraded version of the nCEN now available

By the WCO nCEN team

The WCO digital toolbox contains an extensive variety of instruments and tools to help Customs incorporate information and communications technology (ICT) into their daily work, one of which is the National Customs Enforcement Network (nCEN) application.

It has been almost three years since the first version of the nCEN was launched by the WCO, and the application is now used in 20 countries around the world. Drawing on these years of experience, the WCO has developed, in cooperation with all nCEN user countries, a new version of the nCEN application which better addresses the needs of the Customs community.

With the year 2016 dedicated to the promotion of ‘Digital Customs,’ the launch of this upgraded version of the nCEN could not be timelier.

What is the nCEN?

The application gives Customs administrations the ability to collect, store, analyse, and disseminate law enforcement information efficiently at the national level, in order to establish robust intelligence capabilities, enhance profiling at the strategic, tactical and operational level, and boost information-sharing both regionally and internationally.

The nCEN consists of three independent databases. The principal database of national seizures and offences comprises data required for analysis, as well as means of conveyance, routes, and the possibility to view photos depicting exceptional concealment methods. Two supplementary databases contain information on suspect persons, methods of conveyance and business entities of interest to Customs, thereby facilitating a structured investigation process.

What’s new?

In response to requests from countries already using the application as one of their main enforcement tools, the new version of the nCEN was developed. In addition to improving existing functionality in line with daily operational needs, the application developers focused on:

  • aligning the pre-populated drop-down fields for information related to detection methods and risk indicators used to detect a crime or an infringement, with the wording/designation used in the WCO Customs Risk Management Compendium;
  • integrating an electronic data input component, allowing data to be transferred from other national databases;
  • upgrading the in-built information communication interface, enabling information-sharing on investigations and/or suspect persons (not just seizures);
  • adding significant enhancements to the search capability of the system, allowing administrations to extract greater value from the content of their data, resulting in increased user productivity and better decision-making.

How can nCEN benefit administrations?

One of the primary uses of the application is to improve the process of data collection and data management. In addition, the nCEN also assists Customs administrations with the digitalization of their daily operations by providing workflow management features, and structured communication relating to the investigation process, or the post seizure follow-up actions that need to be taken.

The system allows, for example, cases and tasks to be assigned to officers in order that they may follow up actions taken and keep a record of them. Using the nCEN to support daily Customs enforcement work allows the history of undertaken actions to be tracked, thus providing a global picture of the efficiency of existing workflow processes.

Developed with the aim of supporting risk management, the nCEN offers the possibility to analyse data quickly online through the use of its advanced search feature, or to download bulk data for in-depth offline analysis. All data input into the nCEN is searchable and analysable, with the possibility of creating ‘watch lists’ of arriving passengers, companies appearing in the country, and/or vessels or containers arriving at borders.

The advanced search functions make interlinking between the persons or companies and the committed fraud or outcomes of investigations possible, an added value from an analytical perspective for profiling and risk management. Countries using the nCEN can share information on their seizures and suspect persons, companies, methods of conveyance, etc. among each other, with the possibility of tracking the results of their information exchanges.

Various digital tools are available for information exchange, however the additional advantage of the nCEN’s in-built information communication (Icomm) interface is that reporting only has to be done once. Icomm allows administrations to exchange data in a standardized format with other nCEN countries (provided a legal basis exists), or to transfer non-nominal components of their data directly to the global WCO CEN database with a click of a button.

Work is currently underway to further establish a link between the nCEN and the Customs Enforcement Communication platform (CENcomm), allowing nCEN users to additionally transfer their data collected, under the auspices of an enforcement operation, directly to their nCEN seizure database.

This information sharing component is key to boosting cooperation at the regional level. The WCO adopted a regional approach in the deployment of the application, which is also reflected in the activities organized around nCEN matters. Each country that implements the nCEN is asked to nominate a local nCEN Project Leader for all communication related to the nCEN. The first regional project leaders’ workshop was organized in the WCO East and Southern Africa region in 2015 to discuss technical matters, and the conclusions from that meeting were instrumental in shaping the new version of the nCEN application.

Want to find out more?

The nCEN application is provided to WCO Members free of charge, and a range of customized solutions is available, catering to each administration’s circumstances and needs. For example, fast track implementation in those administrations that already possess the hardware needed to support the application. To ensure optimal use at the national level, the application may be translated by the implementing administration into its national language, becoming an integrated part of the country’s ICT base.

Please contact the WCO for additional details on the implementation process, or for any other queries concerning the nCEN.


More information