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Kiosks mean less queuing, more doing

Published on  10 March by Sean Farrell , Portfolio Director, Government Solution Line, SITA
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Passengers have embraced check-in kiosks because they are fast and convenient, but best of all they save waiting in a long queue for the check-in agent, which means you get to join the long queue at immigration that much faster.

Yet even this is on the verge of change. The queue busting gift of check-in kiosks is being turned on the immigration process, saving time for both outbound and inbound passengers.

For example, the United States (US) Customs and Border Protection Agency has approved self-service kiosks for collecting passenger data and doing a biometric check against the passenger’s passport. This means that kiosks can be used to process any passenger from the USA, Canada or any of the 38 visa waiver countries.

It has enabled us to deploy our Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks at a number of international airports across the country including Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston. More recently we have added JFK New York to this roster by installing over 40 APC kiosks in JetBlue’s T5 arrivals hall.

Using biometric technology, our kiosks can process passengers securely in less than 60 seconds and the reports we are getting back indicate waiting times have been reduced by up to 40%.

Kiosks are not the only technology makeover that borders controls are getting. Automated border control gates, which can also perform document and biometric checks on passengers, are becoming an increasingly common sight at airports, particularly in Europe. For instance, Italy has already deployed SITA’s iBorders Gates.

The benefit is that passenger can use the gates without waiting in line to speak to an immigration officer, therefore enabling a high throughput. In fact, each of SITA’s iBorders Gates can process passengers at a rate of up to seven per minute.

Growing confidence that technology can do the job

More and more governments are starting to embrace technology as part balancing security needs and passenger facilitation. According to Acuity Market Intelligence more than 150 airports currently have some form of automated border control gates or kiosks that either rely on ePassports or require separate biometric registration. This number will double by 2020.

Driving the change is advances in biometrics and more use of ePassports. Acuity reports that by the end of 2014, 110 countries will have issued more than 700 million biometric ePassports, representing 83% of all those in circulation.

The accuracy of biometrics has also improved substantially – particularly matching techniques using face recognition. Tests on our iBorders Gates, for example, show that almost all eligible travelers were processed successfully with no intervention by an agent. That includes both the document and biometric checks.

It means our technology can remove the need for border personnel to manually check the travel document and identity for almost every traveler.

All-in-all, it makes a compelling case for allowing the vast majority of low-risk passengers to process themselves, freeing border agencies to focus on those posing a greater risk.

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