Is your Passenger Information Unit (PIU) ready to receive? Are you ready to send the data? | SITA

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Is your Passenger Information Unit (PIU) ready to receive?

Published on  19 July by Andy Smith , Head of Business Development, Border Management & Government Services, Europe, SITA
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Are you ready to send the data?

In 2016, the European Union (EU) stayed true to its objective of strengthening the borders and improving the security of its citizens by issuing the PNR (Passenger Name Record) Directive (1). As it goes live, we believe it will have a huge impact on Member State Border Operations and also on air, land and sea carriers operating in the EU.

The Directive states carriers must transfer PNR data for all passengers into a Passenger Information Unit (PIU) for analysis and investigation. The PIU can become the central point for a Member States access to passenger data, and the source for its security services to detect, investigate and prevent terrorism and serious criminal activity. The transfer of PNR data is not new in itself, as many Member States, within and outside the EU, already do so to help with law enforcement.

When talking about data these days consideration must be given to the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) from the EU. It will provide both carriers and governments with additional compliance requirements to ensure all personal data is protected. The PNR Directive states that:

  • PNR data can be processed only for the fight against terrorism and listed criminal offences.
  • the PNR data must be depersonalized through masking out after 6 months and must be deleted after 5 years

And of course, the PNR data can only be used to look at suspicious travel patterns with the aim of detecting serious criminal activity and potential threats to a nation’s security.

Getting the PIU working

One of the main obstacles a member state faces in establishing the PIU is receiving and combining the data from all carriers operating within their country. Whilst larger, more established carriers may be used to submitting data to governments around the world, the format they supply it in and the timing requested by a country can vary considerably. Smaller carriers may not have the resources to process multiple member states PIU’s requirements in the timescales desired.

Keep it simple and standardized

If PIUs can make it quick, simple and cheap for carriers to submit the required data, carriers will be able to deliver compliant information effectively and the member state can reap the benefits of the PNR directive sooner.

Standardization of messages or accommodation of existing messages formats and timings will also reduce the administrative overhead of chasing and potentially prosecuting carriers who don’t comply.  But of course, even if the EU is standardized in its approach to PNR data, if a carrier operates in countries outside the EU, it will still need to manage the differing timescales and requirements of the respective countries.

Last but not least, if we’re to make the PIU most effective, each country must ensure the data it receives is accurate and of high quality. See our recent blog, ‘Poor data = big border risks’, for more insight into how data quality can be affected and ways to guard against it.

Are you ready?

Carriers need to look to how they can optimize, streamline and simplify their submission of passenger and crew data to member states, ensuring completeness and quality to minimize any errors and fines. Member States need to implement a robust PIU and underlying operational strategy to ensure that they are collecting, analyzing and sharing the PNR data received aligned with the EU PNR Directive regulations.

Learn more about our iBorders Advanced, iBorders FastStart and iBorders GovernmentGateway solutions and see how they can help you be PIU ready.

(1)  On 27 April 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive (EU) 2016/681 (The PNR Directive) on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. Read More

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