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Securing the supply chain with actionable analytics: HP Haven and GPAS


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By Steven Simske, HP Fellow and Director, HP Labs


Usually when reading about the Internet of Things and Big Data, we’re told that sometime in the near future our refrigerators will text us when we’re out of milk and our thermostats will check the weather. These are not disruptions, but modest replacements of existing capabilities.


But, the future is already a reality when it comes to fighting counterfeiting through advanced imaging, Big Data, and supply chain management. More than just bad news for brands, counterfeiting is a major criminal enterprise that pumps billions of dollars into the black market—a market that funds nefarious activities—and sells subpar medicine to the people who need the real medicine most. By connecting physical things that move around the globe to their online records, we’re taking the Internet of Things beyond automatically generated machine and sensor data. Making use of this data with HP Haven and supply chain analytics is the subject of a session I’m presenting at this year’s HP Discover Barcelona.


Shining a light on the shadows

The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeiting accounts for between five to seven percent of world trade, worth an estimated $600 billion a year. However, by marrying the power of HP Haven’s Big Data analytics and the cutting-edge imaging research of HP Labs, we’ve created the Global Product Authentication Service (GPAS), one of the most effective tools in staunching the world’s illicit economy. By using actionable analytics along with the associated imaging and cryptography services that allow you to securely and privately establish the relationship between things and the Internet, we’ve been able to alert the local authorities and trigger raids that have found counterfeit goods worth hundreds of millions of dollars.


It works like this: GPAS generates cryptographically secure codes that can be printed on individual labels, packaging, documents, etc. GPAS stores these codes and associates them with a workflow. When these numbers are read in the field (real-world), GPAS updates its data record for this particular code, and provides the relevant response to the user. So, for example, if a certain shipment is supposed to be in Kentucky, and that shipment is actually in China, we know that there’s some sort of problem. It might be counterfeiting or it might be a wrong delivery. Either way, it’s a supply chain event worth reporting.


A bigger picture

One of the most exciting developments is our work with a large group of manufacturers where we de-identify—anonymize—data about individual products and then uncover larger trends: adoption and compliance rates, the location of counterfeiting and fraud hot spots, and even the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns. Visual analytics include those by geo-location, brand, product type, and product lot, and are used to get a more in-depth understanding of the aggregate data.


Part of the power of GPAS is that it incorporates data security analytics, including cryptographic-level randomness validation, code anti-replication, fast look up, clustering, and classification. Because of these algorithms, you can readily extend GPAS to other analytics tasks.


This system of anti-counterfeiting has benefits beyond brand integrity—although the implicit promise a particular brand makes is vital to its long-term survival. Brands by nature are transparent; when you buy a Coca-Cola you know exactly what you’re getting. But, if a consumer buys a counterfeit piece of electronics and it breaks, he’s less likely to buy from that brand in the future. Plus, he will find out the hard way that his purchase is not protected by a warranty.


Beyond brands

I’m on the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Illicit Economy, and we’ve found that a far-ranging implication of the dark economy is that it doesn’t pay taxes. This has a trickle-down effect, as part of a vicious circle where schools, roads, and law enforcement aren’t funded. This leads to a weaker government, often understandably prone to graft and corruption, that’s not able to meet the needs of its citizens.


At heart, GPAS is about marrying the integrity of products to the Internet of Things. By matching items to their electronic records, we help consumers, businesses, and ultimately, people’s quality of life. You can learn more at my talk on improving product innovation and safety with real-time data analysis and forensics at Discover Barcelona.



headshot2.jpgSteven is an HP Fellow in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab (PCDL), and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Enterprise Round-tripping through Imaging and Classification for an Integrated Document Lifecycle Ecosystem (ERIC IDLE) program, which includes HP Lab's Document Lifecycle and Security Printing portfolios.








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