The kiosk rises – big opportunities at the border

Among the latest trends is the growing and successful use of kiosks at the border, a move which is proving itself in the industry through smoother and faster passenger flow, fewer frustrations and more efficiencies.

It’s almost 18 years since SITA introduced its first self-service kiosks. Today they’re relied on for myriad tasks, from check-in to bag tagging. But one of the biggest opportunities now lies in their use for border management.

Cited for ever more uses at the airport, the kiosk is on the rise. So say recent consulting firm reports. Among the latest trends is the growing and successful use of kiosks at the border, a move which is proving itself in the industry through smoother and faster passenger flow, fewer frustrations and more efficiencies.

Airport kiosk evolution is endorsement of the passenger’s embrace of self-service. SITA’s check-in kiosks were first introduced by Air Alaska in 1997, designed to improve the journey for passengers by reducing queuing and to test the appetite for self-service.

Six years later, the first common use self-service kiosks made their appearance at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Today, thousands of kiosks provide services in airports across the world.

And airports continue to invest in them. The latest Airport IT Trends Survey finds that 60% of airports plan to increase common use kiosks over the next three years for check-in and other, new, uses.

Kiosk drivers

Border management is an area of increasing interest, with growth in demand for automated border control gates and kiosks creating a significant market for change.

According to a new Acuity Market Intelligence study – ‘The Global Automated Border Control Industry Report: Airport eGates and Kiosks’ – two trends are driving the kiosk’s rise at the border:

  1. Global trends reflecting advances in technology, the competitive environment, and a broad-­based consensus in how 21st century airport operations will evolve
  2. Unique regional and local policies and priorities that define specific programs and shape the progress of gate and kiosk deployments

Prompt receipt

Both automated border control gates and kiosks enable passengers to self-­clear border and passport control by using an approved e-passport or Registered Traveler pre-­enrolment program.

The kiosks prompt passengers to answer questions by using a self-­service touch screen. Then passengers are issued with a receipt which they take, along with their passport and travel information, to a border agent for final clearance.

Kiosks are being increasingly used in North America to clear both US citizens who are not required to submit biometrics, as well as third party visa waiver nationals who must submit biometrics.

SITA kiosks and gates in North America are present in a growing number of airports, including Miami, JFK New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and more. (See also ‘Let’s make borders smarter’.)


Acuity note that e-passports evolved as a response to mandated requirements defined by governments. On the other hand, the air transport industry itself created the automated border control gates and kiosk market. It responds to the specific needs and requirements of airports and their host countries.

That’s resulted in development influenced but not bound by international requirements, which has created a degree of tension and has resulted in a fragmented market.

But the consulting firm suggests that industry collaboration, shared expertise and a willingness to develop formal and informal standards across the sector “will inevitably lead to the development of integrated, interoperable, and universally accessible border management solutions.”

‘Holy grail’

Acuity’s data-driven analysis of the current and future state of the market discusses how a more complex border management IT infrastructure will both facilitate global travel and provide more effective sovereign security capabilities.

It continues:

“The ultimate 21st century ‘holy grail’ for immigration and passenger processing is to provide a truly seamless and almost unnoticeable airport experience.

“One that increases total passenger capacity and throughput while freeing travelers to enjoy leisure activities and freeing security personnel and border control authorities from resource intensive routine screenings to focus on identifying and evaluating authentic security threats.”


Clearly, trends in border management are gathering pace at an astounding rate. Accuity notes that airlines and airports will increasingly push passenger self-­service outside the airport to fixed and mobile internet-connected devices. At the same time security and border control authorities will push to strengthen the link between individuals, travel credentials, and travel reservations.

Says the paper: “The challenges will be overcome and by 2025 an extraordinary transformation of the international air travel experience will occur; a transformation that will mostly go unnoticed as it progresses along with traveler expectations.

“The ‘ordinary’ travel experience in 10 years time will be as extraordinary and unimaginable today as the billion smartphones that shipped last year were a mere decade ago.”


Governments are accelerating their adoption of biometric border control solutions, according to another report commissioned by SITA – ‘2014 Border Control and Biometrics Market Assessment’ – from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

They report a market that’s primarily driven by easier and lower-cost installation of systems, short product life cycles requiring frequent upgrade and replacement, and the increased number of passengers travelling internationally.

Thanks to new e-government and border control programs, the most active regions are Asia-Pacific (accounting for 48.4% of total market revenues), Europe (25.1%) and North America (13.0%). Demand for e-passports and e-visas is likely to remain strong over the forecast period (to 2022), which is driving demand for border control.

The Frost & Sullivan study concludes with three predictions:

  1. Big data will continue to drive demand for automated processes, interconnectivity and the faster flow of information and people
  2. End users will increasingly leverage new, advanced solutions, particularly in the law enforcement segment
  3. Global collaboration will become a greater requirement as the flow of goods and people across borders continues to grow
Learn more about the Frost & Sullivan report
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