Innovation plays a critical role in ensuring that officers managing the borders of the country can deliver expected results when undertaking this sensitive responsibility. The research focused on determining how to enhance border security using innovation. The study relied on both primary and secondary data sources. It is evident that with the emerging challenges that border control officers face, innovation and emerging technologies are critical in ensuring that they secure the country’s borders.
We will write a custom Research Paper on Innovation in the UAE Border Control Industry specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The United Arab Emirates is one of the fastest developing countries in the world and the government has committed a lot of resources to diversify the economy as a way of over-relying on oil and gas exports. The city of Dubai has become a leading global tourist destination and business hub. Abu Dhabi is also a major trading city (Nemeth 2013). One of the major issues that the government faces as the economy continues to develop is the growing insecurity in the region.
Violent extremism that is caused by communitarianism in some parts of the MENA region is causing a major security concern. The war going on in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq has caused security concerns in the region. In the spirit of internationalism, the government of EAE has committed itself to take some of the refugees fleeing their country because of the insecurity. However, Springer (2013) says that some of the people getting into the country are radicalized and there is always the fear that they may become a security threat in the country. Then some infiltrate our border and get into the country illegally. They may be individuals looking for jobs within the country or people trading in contraband goods.
These people are increasingly becoming sophisticated. They continue to use unique ways of getting into the country. Their activities inside the country may have economic or negative social impacts. It is the responsibility of the border protection unit to ensure that the borders are protected from illegal immigrants and criminals.
Innovation offers the best solution to the problem that the border protection unit often faces in its normal operations. Criminals and illegal immigrants are becoming very creative when trying to find their way into the country. Criminals dealing in hard drugs and related products have become sophisticated. Hahn (2012) says that some of these contraband goods pass through the airports and seaports without being detected because of the sophistication that they always use.
It has become difficult for the customs officers to detect these illegal goods when doing checkups using the conventional method. That is who it is becoming important for the border protection unit and the customs officers to use innovative ways when doing their work. They must use sophisticated means of checking the borders and inspecting goods and people who get into the country. The officers must be capable of using emerging technologies to make their work more efficient and less physically demanding than it was the case before. The airports and the seaports need new means of inspection.
At the country’s borders, it is necessary to have constant monitoring of any movement of people into and away from the country. New technologies have emerged that make it possible to conduct such inspections. It is only through technology-based innovative approaches that the country can be protected from potential attacks posed by criminal gangs and extremists whose presence in the country may spell threat to people and property.
This study focuses on enhancing border security using innovation based on emerging technologies. According to Hahn (2012), the issue of security is one of the major concerns of the government and other stakeholders in the country as the economy continues to grow. As such, this study that focuses on enhancing security may be considered very important by the government and various other stakeholders. It is for that reason that the researcher finds it important to come up with specific objectives that the study should achieve. The following are the objectives of this research:
- To identify major weaknesses in the current methods used in border control;
- To determine the impact that the weaknesses in border control have had on the country’s security;
- To identify how innovation and emerging technologies can be used to address the weaknesses and improve border patrol.
The above research objectives set out what the researcher must focus on when collecting data from the field. The researcher will need questions, based o the above research objectives, to help in collecting relevant data from the sources that will be used in the study. The research questions are critical because they help in ensuring that irrelevant information is not collected from the field. The following are the specific research questions that the data had to respond to directly:
- What are the major weaknesses in the current methods used in border control?
- What is the impact of the current weaknesses in border control on the country’s security?
- How can innovation and emerging technologies be used to address the weaknesses and improve borders control?
To respond to the above questions, the researcher relied on both primary data collected from the respondents and secondary data collected from books, journal articles, and other reliable online sources.
Theory and Hypotheses
According to Nemeth (2013), the pressure that the governments around the world have on the need to have secured borders is increasing as time goes by because of the dynamics in the environment. On one hand, countries all over the world, both developed and developing, are keen on attracting tourists and foreign investors from all over the world as a way of strengthening their economy. On the other hand, there is a need to ensure that criminals and terror suspects from other countries do not find their way into the country. It has become very important for the stakeholders in the border control industry to find ways of monitoring the borders and ports to ensure that unwanted individuals do not find their way to the country.
The real challenge stakeholders in the border control industry face, according to Hahn (2012), are the sophistication of the methods criminals and terror suspects use to gain entry into their target countries. Some of these undesirable elements would pose as refugees, especially because of the massive emigration of people from war-torn countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Iran among others.
It may not be practically impossible to know who is genuinely a refugee and who is a radicalized individual or a criminal having personal heinous interest when crossing the border. However, it is still the responsibility of the government and other stakeholders in this industry to ensure that the safety and security of people and property are assured. According to Malaket (2014), individuals trading in narcotics and other contraband goods are also becoming sophisticated in terms of the means through which smuggle their products through the borders. The emerging changes force the stakeholders in this industry to come up with innovative ways of solving the problem. The industry needs to embrace innovation, especially in the following areas to ensure that the borders remain secure.
Detection, Identification, and Authentication
According to Bossong and Carrapiço (2016), the increasingly globalized world has seen the number of people traveling from one part of the world to the other increase considerably. A city such as Dubai is receiving a massive number of visitors regularly coming as tourists or for business reasons. The work of customs officers is becoming more complex and demanding as they have to process the ever-increasing number of people and goods.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
It is the responsibility of these officers to detect individuals who may pose a security threat to the country. Whenever a threat is detected at the customs, the officers have to find ways of dealing with it in an effective and timely manner. The authenticity of people coming into the country as refugees must be determined before giving them asylum status in the country. A greater challenge is often faced by officers who are responsible for the border patrols.
When a country has a porous border, it becomes easy for criminals, extremists, and contraband goods to cross the border into the country. For a country with a long coastal border, the problem becomes even greater as the security apparatus must have sophisticated marine instruments to enhance border control. Innovative ideas are needed in the process of detecting, identifying, and authenticating goods and people coming into the country. Nemeth (2013) says that customs officers need innovative ways of detecting contraband goods such as drugs and firearms. The border patrol officers need creative ways of ensuring that they are always capable of having surveillance at the borderline.
Communication, Data Sharing, and Interoperability
The border control industry needs highly innovative ways of collecting and sharing data to combat insecurity and illegal trade associated with the country’s porous border. According to Malaket (2014), one of the innovative ways of collecting data on border security is by using real-time video surveillance using satellites. ViaSat is one such innovative tool that allows an officer at the control tower to monitor a huge border stretch without necessarily being physically present at the borders.
This innovative way of monitoring border activities and collecting data has been viewed as an effective way of protecting the border with minimal requirement of human labor. Once the information is collected via the satellite, it is shared with the relevant authorities so that necessary actions can be taken. The approach also eliminates cases where border patrol officers are ambushed by criminal gangs along the border.
Once the criminals are detected at the border, their movements can be tracked as the border patrol and other security apparatus plan on their arrest. It reduces cases where officers are exposed to unnecessary harm (Bossong and Carrapiço 2016). The technology also enhances the interoperability of different security agents responsible for managing border security. They can easily share information and ensure that they have a coordinated approach when undertaking their operations. Hahn (2012) says that integrating emerging technologies in border control is critical in enhancing precision and speed both at the ports and in border management.
Engaging Institutions of Higher Learning
According to Zhao, Ordóñez, and Tennyson (2015), as the border management become more demanding and sometimes very dangerous to the security agents than ever before, it has become necessary to find innovative ways of handling the emerging threats. The industry is under immense pressure to find innovative ways of undertaking its duties more efficiently but in a less risky manner. It has become necessary for the border control industry to engage institutions of higher learning to come up with effective ways of solving this problem.
In a report by Springer, (2013), the United States has been actively engaging its institutions of higher learning to solve the problem of porous borders and how to protect it. The report clearly shows that learners are often creative and when offered a perfect environment and motivation, they can use the knowledge gained in class to find lasting solutions to the security threats at the border. Nemeth (2013) says that students working closely with their professors can be presented with the real-life problems that the officers in the border patrol unit face.
They can then come up with a possible solution based on emerging technologies. Regular training of the border control and customs officers in the local universities may be necessary. These officers understand the kind of challenges they often face in their workplace. They have the best capacity to come up with innovative solutions to these problems when they are offered an environment where they can test their creative ideas and engage peers in developing such ideas.
In the modern competitive and globalized society, people often tend to find innovative ways of solving current and emerging problems in better ways. Bossong and Carrapiço (2016) say that humankind is always in constant competition. People try to outsmart one another in terms of wealth, good life, better security, better healthcare, and many other such related areas.
Although the positive competition towards a better lifestyle has helped in transforming the society to be a better place, criminals have also been taking advantage of emerging technologies to make their operations more sophisticated than before to ensure that they can achieve their selfish interests. Scholars have come up with several theories to explain the innovative phenomenon and how entities can take advantage of it to ensure that they achieve their desired goals.
In this paper, the researcher will look at the Diffusion of Innovation Theory and Kurt Lewin Model of Change. These theories explain how an entity can change from one system to another. The following figure shows the Diffusion of Innovation Theory.
As shown in the model above, innovation starts with knowledge acquisition. In this case, the stakeholders in the border control industry must be keen on gathering knowledge about the emerging innovative ways of undertaking their duties. It may be the emergence of software, a tool, or a new approach of undertaking their duties at the borders of the country. The responsible stakeholders must clearly understand the new methods to be early adopters without facing any negative consequences.
Malaket (2014) says that in most cases it is the responsibility of the management to gather the initial knowledge about a new idea and how it is relevant in an organizational setting. The next step is persuasion. The management will have to convince the stakeholders that the new methods and tools will make the work of border control easier and less costly compared with the current methods.
The government must be convinced about the effectiveness of the new methods to convince them to invest in the new methods and to authorize the shift from using the current strategies to the new methods. On the other hand, the management will also need to convince the employees to be ready to embrace the new methods. Baldwinson (2012) says that to persuade these stakeholders, the management team must be equipped with the right knowledge about the proposed systems and structures so that they can answer any question that may be posed by their audience.
The next step is the decision-making stage. The stakeholders, after being briefed about the intended new methods and technologies, will make an important decision of either embracing or rejecting the new methods. The government will need a cost-benefit analysis of the new project. It must be assured that the project is worth the investment and that it will not only improve security at the borders but also cut down the costs in the long run.
On the other hand, the officers will want systems and methods that will make their work more efficient and less dangerous. When all the relevant stakeholders are convinced of the system and are ready to embrace it, the next step is the implementation. The proposed methods or the new inventions will be put to practice. For instance, if it is the adoption of ViaSat to enhance border surveillance, then at this stage the stakeholders will purchase and install both the hardware and software, train the personnel on how to use the new technology, and initiate the process of using it to enhance border security.
The last stage is the evaluation and confirmation (Bossong & Carrapiço 2016). The stakeholders in the border control industry will evaluate the impact of the new methods to determine if the desired and promised goals have been achieved. If the new methods deliver the expected returns, then it will be adopted. In case its performance is below the expectations, then it will be terminated so that a better alternative can be adopted.
The management must create an environment where change can be initiated without any resistance. As Malaket (2014) says, creating a culture where stakeholders appreciate the need for change and are ready to embrace it helps in ensuring that new methods can be introduced without resistance. The following Kurt model of change can be used to introduce the needed innovative changes in the border security industry.
Innovation in the border control industry involves changing from one system to another regularly when undertaking various activities in border management. As Baldwinson (2012) notes, people often fear change. There is always the fear of the unknown that may make stakeholders resist change. The employees may fear losing their jobs or being forced to embrace methods that require skills and knowledge that they lack. The financiers may fear that the new project may require massive investment but may not give equal returns.
The management may also fear embracing new methods and systems that cannot give the desired value. However, Springer (2013) says that change is a force that cannot be ignored and stakeholders must find a way of introducing it in the best way possible as to avoid any form of resistance. As shown in the model above, the first step should always be to unfreeze. This is a stage where the management prepares everyone for the expected change.
The management will have to explain to the stakeholders why the change is necessary and how it will affect them in various ways. The primary goal at this stage is to eliminate any fear that they may have and to prepare them fully for the intended change. Sometimes it may be necessary to take employees through some basic training to ensure that they are properly equipped to handle the new systems that are to be introduced.
When everyone is fully prepared, the next step will be to introduce the change. It may be the new innovative ways of border patrols using the satellite or any other invention. According to Baldwinson (2012), during this stage, the management will ensure that employees can work under the new methods and the expected goals can be achieved as promised. The last stage is to refreeze. Refreezing in this context means ensuring that the introduced changes become permanent. The new methods become the standard practice within the firm. The model helps in making the entire process of introducing change less stressful both to the management that champions for the change and the employees who have to embrace it.
The above review of literature offers insight into what other scholars have found out about this topic. Based on the above information, it is possible to come up with hypotheses that will be confirmed or rejected based on the primary data analysis. The following are the hypotheses that were developed based on the information collected from secondary data sources:
- H1o. Innovation does not offer effective ways of addressing emerging challenges in border security management in the United Arab Emirates;
- H1o. Innovation offers critical ways of addressing emerging challenges in border security management in the United Arab Emirates.
Innovation in the border control industry is a sensitive topic, especially at this time when the government of the United Arab Emirates is keen on securing its borders due to the emergence of violent extremism fuelled by communitarianism in the region. The report may be useful for various stakeholders and may inform the decisions that policymakers may embrace when trying to enhance border security. As such, it is important to define the methods that were used to collect and analyze data.
The information used in this research was collected from primary and secondary data sources. Secondary data was collected from books, journal articles, and reliable online sources (Pruzan 2016). The information collected from secondary data sources is presented in the literature review above. Primary data sources were obtained from participants who were sampled as discussed in the section below. The findings made from the primary data are presented in the analysis section of this paper. The researcher then integrated the primary and secondary data in the discussion section of the paper.
The information needed in this study can be collected from border patrol officers, security experts, and government officials working in the border and customs unit. It was possible to collect data from numerous people, but the limited time available for the study forces the researcher to collect data from only a small population that was manageable. As such, sampling was important to identify participants who can take part in the study. The researcher chose simple random sampling in each of the three groups of people named above. Through simple random sampling, the researcher identified five security experts, ten border patrol officers, and five customs management officers. A sample of 20 participants was thus collected.
It is necessary to talk briefly about the research paradigm that was considered appropriate for the research. The researcher chose pragmatism as the most appropriate research paradigm for the study. The philosophy holds that reality is constantly renegotiated, often debated, and interpreted; therefore, the most appropriate approach to use is that which solves the problem (Kuada 2012). The issue of border security keeps on changing as the global environment experiences changes in various facets. The concepts such as violent extremism, radicalization, and cyber threat are some of the most common problems that government agencies around the world are battling.
However, they are emerging realities that the society had not perceived five decades ago. It means that the reality in border management keeps changing as new threats emerge, and it is the responsibility of the stakeholders to renegotiate constantly the solutions used in solving the emerging threats. Innovation offers new ways of solving emerging threats and those responsible within this industry must be ready to engage in discussions with the view of finding the most appropriate solution.
The research approach defines the nature of data that will be collected from the participants and the analysis appropriate for the study. In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine how innovation and emerging technologies can be used to improve border security in the United Arab Emirates. The mixed-method approach was considered appropriate. Qualitative research makes it possible to explain the phenomena that the security agents faced in the past and how innovation, or lack of it, impact on the way it was solved (Kuada 2012). The approach makes it possible to offer explanative data that can help in coming up with possible recommendations on how to solve future problems. On the other hand, the quantitative approach helps in determining the magnitude of the issue at hand. It makes it easy to quantify the impact of innovation on border patrol and control.
Primary data was collected from the sampled population. The researcher contacted the administrators of the relevant institutions to get permission to interview their employees. The identified employees were contacted through the phone to inform them about the study and the need for them to be part. Those who accepted to be part of the study immediately received the questionnaires that they filled in their own free time within four days. They e-mailed back the filled questionnaires for analysis.
In this study, the independent variable was innovation while the dependent variable was border control activities. The independent variable (innovation) has a relationship with the dependent variable (border control activities). The study seeks to determine the nature of this relationship. The control variable is the need to have a secure border. Whether or not the border control industry uses innovation, they must ensure that the border remains secure.
Analysis and Results
The primary data collected from the participants was analyzed statistically to get the response for the research questions above. The first question focused on identifying the weaknesses of the current methods and systems used in border control. The following was the question proposed to the participants and their response is shown in the graph that follows.
- What are the major weaknesses in the current methods used in border control?
As shown in the graph above, one of the greatest weaknesses of the current border patrol strategies is the outdated nature of some of the instrument approaches used by the officers. In a world where developed countries such as the United States rely on satellites to monitor their borders, the United Arab Emirates still heavily rely on officers who patrol the marine and land borders physically to deter people from crossing into the country or arrest those who manage to cross.
Limited coordination among the departments involved in border security was another major issue raised by the respondents. For instance, the customs officers and border patrol officers have no platforms where they can directly communicate with ease in case they must share the knowledge that can help make the borders secure. The respondents also felt that the level of creativity and innovativeness among the stakeholders in this industry is below expectations.
Most of the stakeholders are also not very receptive to change, as one of the participants noted. Strict government budget and a limited number of officers were also mentioned as the minor issues that affect efficiency in border control within the country. The next question focused on how the identified weaknesses above in border control affect the country’s security. The following was the question that was posed to the participants. The graph that follows shows the analysis of their response.
- What is the impact of the current weaknesses in border control on the country’s security?
As shown in the graph above, 18 out of the 20 participants reported that weaknesses in border control have a significant impact on the country’s security. One participant stated that he was not sure about the issue while the other stated that it is somehow important. None of the participants registered a contrary opinion.
They explained that when the border patrol units are not effective enough in preventing criminals and violent extremists from getting into the country, it becomes difficult to assure the people of this country of their security and security of their properties. Once inside the country, these criminals may pose serious harm to the peace of the country. As such, this issue must be addressed with the seriousness it deserves. The question below focused on determining how innovation can be used to address the challenges and to improve border security within the country. The graph that follows shows the response obtained from the respondents.
As shown in the figure above, the majority of the respondents, 95% noted that indeed innovation can be the key to solving the current problems faced in the border control industry within the country. The respondents noted that a time has come when the stakeholders must embrace the emerging technologies and be creative enough to come up with new methods of managing the current problems. One of the respondents stated that he was not sure about the relevance of innovation in border security management.
Other Analytical Approaches
It was also important to use qualitative data analysis to help explain some of the issues brought out in the study. The following question was very important and the researcher wanted the respondents to provide an answer based using their own words. It was necessary to capture their views on this issue.
How can innovation and emerging technologies be used to address the weaknesses and improve borders control?
The participants provided varied answers based on their understanding of the issue and their area of experience. One of the respondents stated, “I believe the government should embrace innovations in the area of the satellite to help improve border security.” This participant explained that the current methods used in border patrol are old fashioned and less effective when it comes to combating the current sophisticated criminals.
Another participant said, “We need innovative ways through which various border control officers can communicate and share important information that can enhance their ability to deliver the best services to the country.” Some of the respondents stated that through innovation, the government will reduce its reliance on patrol officers physically monitoring the borders. The response to any threat can also be more efficient when the stakeholders embrace innovative solutions. The respondents also explained that emerging threats such as cyber-attacks and radicalization cannot be encountered using traditional methods.
Border security is an issue that the stakeholders can no longer ignore as the country becomes a major tourist destination and a global business hub. The analysis of primary data and review of existing literature shows that the threat posed by violent extremists, radicalized individuals, cybercriminals, and traders in contraband goods is getting more serious than it was in the past. As such, pressure is piling on the stakeholders to be innovative enough to find ways of dealing with these emerging challenges.
According to Baldwinson (2012), using new inventions such as ViaSat to enhance surveillance of the borders can help enhance security within the country. The officers themselves should be motivated to embrace creativity in their work.
They must be committed to finding unique ways of solving the problems they face. They must understand that being innovative does not mean one must use emerging technologies. It may also involve using the existing technologies but in a new way. It may also involve coming up with strategies that can help the stakeholders to coordinate their activities by sharing relevant information. The customs officers should be made to appreciate the fact that as the individuals directly involved with the management of the borders, they should always be committed to sharing ideas and coming up with ideas that can make their work easier than it currently is.
This research will have a significant implication on the existing bodies of knowledge, especially when it comes to enhancing border security in the United Arab Emirates. Scholars interested in conducting similar or related research will find this document very valuable. The research has also applied several theories, especially the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, in explaining how the stakeholders can create an innovative environment in the border control industry. Such applications make it easy for one to understand and appreciate the relevance of these theories in solving real-life problems in practical contexts.
The department of immigration and border security control play a significant role in ensuring that the United Arab Emirates’ borders are not infiltrated by illegal immigrants. They also have to ensure that the borders are not used by criminals who are engaged in illegal businesses such as trade-in contraband goods. The paper points out the fact that most of the criminals who engage in illegal activities are becoming sophisticated with emerging technologies.
Others are using cyber technologies to outsmart customs and border officials. As such, the management units of bodies at the customs department and those at the border patrol must embrace innovation as a way of combating the emerging problem.
The management must realize that change is a force that one cannot avoid. Using innovation, these departments must ensure that they are always keen on understanding and embracing emerging technologies as a way of aligning their capabilities with the changing expectations. According to Oke, Walumbwa, and Myers (2013), managers should not only create an innovative environment but also directly motivate their employees to be creative at work. Rewards can be given to those who demonstrate their capabilities in coming up with creative ideas of solving organizational challenges.
When conducting the research project, several challenges were encountered that should be highlighted at this stage of the report. The biggest limitation was time. The researcher had to review relevant literature, identify participants, seek their permission, and collect data from them, analyze the data, and compile a report within a very short time. It forced the researcher to use only twenty respondents in the study. The researcher also had to avoid time-consuming face-to-face interviews. Primary data collection was limited to the city of Dubai.
Future scholars in this field should focus on how the government can support innovation in the local border control industry by injecting more resources and helping the players to understand best practices around the world. The studies should focus on how the government can organize for exchange programs with other countries so that the local officers can understand what is expected of them.
The border control industry plays a critical role in the country and as the stakeholders work very hard to diversify the economy this industry must ensure that the borders remain safe. Radicalized individuals and criminals with personal selfish interests will always try to infiltrate the borders of the country. The officers at the customs and the border patrol units must ensure that efforts of such undesirable elements to get into the country are thwarted.
As the criminals continue to use sophisticated ways of infiltrating the borders, a time has come when the industry must embrace creativity and innovation. The officers must use new innovative methods of addressing emerging problems. The stakeholders must always remain positive to change that can help them achieve the desired success in their work.
Baldwinson, T 2012, Innovation with Manchester to Paris night trains using existing rail resources: outline business case, Wiley, Hoboken.
Bossong, R & Carrapiço, H 2016, EU borders and shifting internal security: technology, externalization and accountability, Cengage, New York.
Hahn, N 2012, Gun digest book of the Remington 870, Gun Digest Books, Iola.
Kuada, J 2012, Research methodology: a project guide for university students, Samfundslitteratur, Frederiksberg.
Malaket, A 2014, Financing trade and international supply chains: commerce across borders, finance across frontiers, Springer, London.
Nemeth, C 2013, Homeland security: an introduction to principles and practice, CRC Press, London.
Oke, A, Walumbwa, F & Myers, A 2013, Innovation strategy, human resource policy, and firms’ revenue growth: the roles of environmental uncertainty and innovation performance, Journal of the Decision Sciences Institute, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 273-302.
Pruzan, P 2016, Research methodology: the aims, practices and ethics of science, Cengage, New York.
Springer, P 2013, Military robots and drones: a reference handbook, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara.
Zhao, J, Ordóñez, P & Tennyson, R 2015, Organizational innovation and IT governance in emerging economies, McMillan, London.