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Increasing border security with automation

Published on  09 January by Sean Farrell , Portfolio Director, SITA
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At the end of October, Acuity Market Intelligence reported that automated border control kiosks were expanding across North America and the Caribbean with a total of 25 airports now offering the service. The analyst reports that global market for kiosks will reach 8,000 by 2018. It isn’t just the Americas that are turning to automation, e-gates and kiosks are being used and deployed worldwide, including Australia, Singapore, Germany and the UK.

Why is automation proving so popular? Simply put, the technology is mature enough and radically improves border efficiency and throughput. Acuity Market Intelligence estimates that the kiosks in the US have “decreased international arrival and pre-clearance border control wait times by as much as 80%.”

Increasing passenger numbers mean that border agencies need to take action. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that international passenger numbers will grow by a quarter from 1.2 billion in 2012 to 1.5 billion in 2017. Existing manual border controls already struggle to process today’s volume of passengers and future increases threaten to stress already overloaded processes and systems to breaking point.

The challenge for the border security agency is to identify everybody who is not authorized to enter the country among the millions of legitimate travelers. Border agencies need intelligence to identify these high risk travelers efficiently, accurately and without disrupting the immigration experience for the majority.

Case for automation

Automated border gates and kiosks remove the need for a border guard to manually check the travel document and identity for each and every traveler. Qualified border agents can then be redeployed to focus their attention on potential high-risk travelers, thereby improving efficiency and security.

Success in automated border control relies on the wide use of e-passports and the accuracy of biometric verification.  Now over 100 countries have implemented e-passports, representing around 60% of all passports in circulation in 2012. Biometric matching technology, particularly for facial recognition, has also improved dramatically in recent years.

Not binary choice

There are a number of factors that border agencies must consider to ensure a successful automated border control deployment. These include selecting the right system, choosing where and how to deploy it, educating staff and passengers on how best to use it and re-configuring port operations to maximize the potential benefits.

It isn’t a binary choice between manual and automated processing. It is all about finding the right efficiencies and trade-off between the two. The balance depends on a number of criteria, such as the security requirements, types of threat faced, traveler demographics, infrastructure constraints, and the availability of travel documents, such as e-passports with biometrics.

Read more about how to select the right system and deploy border automation in this paper.

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