The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $145,000 to Spherity GmbH, based in Dortmund, Germany, to develop a capability to enhance the supply chain traceability of direct-to-consumer e-commerce shipments. The Phase 1 award was made under the S&T Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) re-release of its Preventing Forgery & Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses solicitation, which sought standards-based blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions to fulfill additional needs across DHS missions.
The volume of mail delivery for low-value e-commerce is significantly increasing, and new players with new business models are entering the space. This has a significant impact on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) workload, risk segmentation process, targeting priorities, and data collection. Spherity’s Phase 1 award project, “Digital Twins for e-Commerce Packages,” will adapt their core digital-twin binding technology to provide a capability to connect all parties in a transaction to provide package traceability from the internet purchase to the consumer.
Building on this digital-twin source data, additional customs-related information (batch manifests, inspection clearances, and certificates) can be securely linked and shared among all e-commerce stakeholders while preserving privacy. The approach effectively replaces centralized lookup tables with a highly scalable and easier-to-protect digital ledger.
“The unprecedented growth in volume of e-commerce shipments requires creative solutions to interdict illicit and dangerous products that seek to enter the United States.” said Anil John, SVIP technical director. “Spherity will address this challenge by adapting and leveraging a tamper-proof ‘digital twin’ of the package that contains advance information, provides a privacy-preserving, role-based access control mechanism, and is broadly interoperable by utilizing emerging World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) global standards.”
Spherity’s proposed solution will provide CBP with a lightweight decentralized data exchange platform for improving data quality and targeting, and can drive adoption of open data platforms by key players such as shippers and U.S. Customs.