Customs tracks weapons via spray-on chips

Every weapon and equipment part within the Australia Customs and Border Protection Service will be stamped with data chips and tracked under a deal with local Sydney asset tracking company Relegen.

Every weapon and equipment part within the Australia Customs and Border Protection Service will be stamped with data chips and tracked under a deal with local Sydney asset tracking company Relegen.

A DataDot


A tiny DataDot magnified to reveal identity information. (Credit: DataDot)

The agency will be able to pinpoint the location of weaponry, machinery and other resources using so-called DataDots — small sticky flakes sprayed from a can that contain unique identification numbers — and an electronic tracking system dubbed AssetDNA.

Customs will also use an asset management database from the company to monitor the skills, certification and compliance of its officers.

Relegen managing director Paul Bennett, said the deal will track material assets across the agency's 56 bases.

"They will be able to track anything and everything from pumps to rifles based on where they were last registered on the system," Bennett said.

"It will help prevent lost or stolen weapons."

Reports of stolen Australian weaponry emerged this month from NATO sources, which claimed Afghan military trainees were pilfering stockpiles.

Maintenance workers will be able to update equipment records with a precise repair status, meaning Customs personnel will know when to expect assets to be returned operational.

The deal uses products from both US automotive parts producer DataDot and Relegen, which entered a memorandum of understanding last October.

Relegen's AssetDNA technology is a favourite of big industry, including BHP and Rio Tinto, and is also used by the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) to track Defence vehicles, weapons and machinery parts.

It has also been used by the Nigerian Government since 2002 to track some 70,000 AK-47 machine guns used by the army.

Computer repair company Gizmo began offering to spray its customers' computers with the microchips under a deal signed in July.

Bennett said Defence officials from the US state of North Carolina were interested in copying the DMO's deployment of AssetDNA to replace its paper-based manual records system.

The DMO feeds data collection information from the AssetDNA system into its near 20-year-old asset management system, which helps manage some 2 million items including armament and outfits for warships and aircraft.

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