Matteo, Essentia co-founder and Chairman of The Internet of Blockchain Foundation, explained the problem at stake: “Due to the number of border control agencies required to scrutinise travellers along the route, it’s vital for customs agents to be able to view passenger data in advance in the knowledge that it hasn’t been tampered with or impaired in any way. We believe this is to be a problem which blockchain would be ideal for.”
On February 20th, representatives of Essentia One met with Dutch ministers at The Hague. The purpose for the meeting was to discuss possible solutions to border control issues that currently beset the Amsterdam to London Eurostar route. Amsterdam-based Essentia One specialise in blockchain technology, and are in the process of developing a framework for the decentralised web. “Where some people see problems, we see challenges, which then motivates us to develop a solution” says Matteo.
Together with Head of Business Development Bedros Awanesian and Essentia Advisor Erik van der Staak, Mirco and Matteo made the trip to The Hague where they engaged in “productive” talks with officials from the Ministry of Justice & Security and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water (Transport). Matteo conceded that the problem the team were hoping to address was a complex one, but was optimistic that progress could be made, stating: “The fact that representatives of the Dutch government were willing to even countenance using blockchain technology showed they were open to left field ideas if these proved to be workable and cost-effective.”
The proposal put forward by Essentia One would alleviate much of the disruption that passengers currently endure as part of the extent border check process. Because the train passes through multiple countries and jurisdictions on its way from the Netherlands to England, travellers are obligated to disembark and then reboard the train as checks are carried out. Blockchain technology is prized for its transparency and auditability, and it was these characteristics that Essentia emphasised as to why it could prove its use on the Eurostar route.
The team’s solution would see passenger records securely stored on the blockchain in near-real time by Dutch officials and then made available to their counterparts in other countries. That way, passengers could be screened in advance, eliminating the need for multiple checks at stopping points along the way.
“The existing system puts an unnecessary strain on travellers and the transport system, and it severely prolongs journey time,” noted Essentia co-founder Mirco, speaking from personal experience. He also spoke of the “positive atmosphere” that pervaded the meeting with Dutch Ministry officials in The Hague, and was optimistic that tangible progress would be made. His fellow founder Matteo concurred, explaining: “Using Essentia, all four countries connected by the Eurostar service (the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom) have the opportunity to independently and remotely identify passengers and confirm whether they have been approved for boarding. This allows for rapid, remote control of which travellers are allowed to enter a target country, based on entry requirements.”
Due to the number of countries and border control agencies with a stake in the Eurostar Amsterdam to London route, any potential project would be subject to agreement from all parties. The Essentia team spoke warmly of the progress made at the initial meeting, not only in regards to the Eurostar route, but potentially elsewhere in the country too. The blockchain solution Essentia outlined would be equally suited to other border control points within the Netherlands, including airports, and the company is now in talks with Dutch officials with a view to potentially devising a pilot.
Whatever the outcome of future talks, Essentia emphasised their gratitude to officials from the Dutch government for taking the time to hear their proposal, and for considering innovative solutions to border control. Essentia is optimistic that a working model can be implemented in the future, demonstrating another real world use case for blockchain.
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