Customs goes social

If you didn’t know it – here is some news for you: Dubai Customs is one of the a global leaders on Customs information services. Dubai Customs has developed a range of advanced e-services for the private sector and the public.

Dubai Customs has for a long time been a champion of innovative digitial Customs technolgy solutions. But are they the only administration using the new technology platforms for communication? No almost all Customs administration do so these days.

Dubai Customs – a leader on social media and digital Customs solutions

Customs has been a key function for Government for centuries. In fact Customs is one of the oldest professions in the world. Originally to collect tax and duties, which is still tve main function for  many Customs administries around the world. 

However as the world is changing so is Customs. Today areas like security, safety, protection, law enforcement and IPR are key functions for all Customs services. Customs nowadays also play a key role in development being the leading main authority involved in international trade. Today we know that trade is one of the most important drivers in relation to social development of our nations and regions. With growing and emerging trade and changed trade patterns line the development of global value chains, trade facilitation has become a major oriority for Customs. 

To be able to carry out these key functions of our countries in an efficient way, communication and interaction with people, citizens and businesses have become a part of daily life for customs officers. Why is information and communication important? If people don’t know the regulations, they can’t follow the rules. This not only creates unnecessary problems for people – and Government – but it also make us use resources in the wrong areas from a risk management perspective. 

For decades now we have been developing communication strategies, information policies, information material, customer surveys, focus groups, cooperation foras and in our attempts to increase the information to public and private sectors. It is fair to say that we have not always been successful in our honest attempts and that we are still learning as agencies to do this effecient and in a language that is understandable for non-Government officials. But we are improving, we are getting better and better. 

The latest trend in this perspective that I find very intersting from a communication perspective is Customs use of social media. 

Social media is king is the communication king today

Being a firm believer of communication and being an early adopter to new technology (toys for boys, you know) I personally started to use socia media and internet blogs. Today I have more than 11.000 readers of this blog a month and many follwers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The interaction I have from thes eplatforms is amazing, keeping old networks alive and establishing new ones alla round the world. Today there are more people having access to a cell/mobile/smartphone than to clean water. There are social media networks, like FB that didn’t exist ten tears ago, connecting billions of people.  

Private Sector and business early discovered the commercial potential of social media. 

Now Customs and Government agencies are starting to do the same. I have the last thee years followed the development of Customs use of social media as a part of my PhD preparations. 

In 2013 when I started to look at this topic most Customs administrations had good websites but that was basically the common use of internet services available at the time. There were about twenty countries that has started to enter the world of social media and smart phone apps. 

In early 2014 the real development had started and a number of countries follwed. 

There are already hundreds of Twitter accounts about Customs matters

Today there are almost one hundred countries who make their Customs information available using social media applications.

Facebook page of Dubai Customs

Many Customs administrations have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and have Instagram services. There were more thn 500 Cusotms related Twitter accounts in the beginning of 2016 and many new ones have been added since. 

There are more than 1000 smart phone apps available for IOs/Apple iPhone and Andoid phones (like Samsung, LG and Huawei smartphones) for Customs matters. Most of these apps are for free and can give considerble support for the private sector and the public. You can find everything from customs duties and tax calculators to applications, licensing rules, legislation tools, informations services and much more. Very valuable information for everybody.

Smartphone apps specifically developed for Customs

I will soon publicise a specific paper on this topic. In this research paper I will also present some of the early results from international use of social media in Customs. I can reveal that the results are very positive. It works, and why wouldn’t it?

You will find more about it on this blog, so watch out. 

I seriously recommend you all to search and use these applications. They are there for you and thr more we all use them, the better they will become. Start by checking out the leaders in this field, Customs admikistrations like Dubai Customs and USCBP.