Hurt by costly delays at the Canada-U.S. border, the Canadain business community has urged the U.S. and Canadian governments to seek technology solutions that will involve tapping the talent of private-sector whiz kids.


At the frontline of this demand is the Canadian American Business Council, a powerful body having representation from two countries’ and the ambassadors on board. Urging national governments to adopt a model popularised by startups during the boom, it wanted a bunch of software engineers be huddled in a room and given a problem to solve under the offer of a prize. They call it hackathon model.

The business groups are completely frustrated  by the slow pace of its government’s efforts to reduce wait times at the border, reported Huffington Post.

Worse Border Delays

The Canada-U.S. border business is hampered by delays that worsened after 9-11 security measures and slowed the movement of goods and people. According to the think tank Fraser Institute, the delays are costing the Canadian economy somewhere between one and two percent of its GDP. It endorses the demand for a hackathon as it can simplify inspection processes; create a new order of priorities to inspect; where to base the border personnel and the use of information technology to allow vehicles to cross the most convenient spot in the borders.

Maryscott Greenwood, an official of the U.S Canadian Business Council, has been very vocal about this idea. She took up the issue with White House officials this summer and pressed for hackathon solution as used by the U.S. during disaster preparedness. She suggested a similar approach can help “Beyond the Border” programme and cut delays. Measures to cut delays in the border were discussed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama three years ago.

Greenwood again raised the issue at a binational border conference in Ottawa and in conversations with cabinet ministers, including Homeland Security boss Jeh Johnson, and Industry Minister James Moore of Canada, reported National Post. 

Twin Benefits

Adam Schlosser, director, Centre for Global Regulatory Co-operation, who deals a lot with the Canada-U.S. trade files is an expert in digital trade and exposed to innovative projects around the world. He sees twin benefits from a hackathon–one is that government money will only go to the most deserving innovative company. Second, the toughest domestic-policy challenge will get solved.


International Business Times