The UK’s Home Office has been openly criticised this week over the e-borders scheme, which was besieged by problems since it was launched in 2003, last year ending its current form, which proved to be completely ineffective.
The borders scheme, costing around £830 million originally intended to collect passenger data and perform analysis on all travellers arriving at and leaving the UK’s airports and seaports.
Many of the criticisms are regarding not only the spending acceleration of the project, but also its failure to meet its targets, with an estimated 20% of booking data being collected, compared to the 100% original target figure. Advance Passenger Information collection in September of this year was at 86%.
The original contract for the provision of the e-borders technology was cancelled, and a subsequent £150 million settlement was paid out-of-court.
While the system has been upgraded, the original e-borders scheme is way overdue, with an estimated completion date now set at around 2019, eight years past the intended deadline.
E-borders technology improvements all over the world are proving successful in the ability to track the movements of terror suspects and to minimise the risks to national security. The latest developments offer solutions using biometric data and self check in.
The UK Home Office maintain that despite the delays and problems with the implementation of the new e-borders system, all arrivals on UK shores are checked against national watch lists.
Interpol World 2015 in Singapore this week will see Gemalto demonstrate its latest next-generation Border Management Systems with automated eGates, electronic passports and visa monitoring capabilities.
Government and border agencies all over the world are looking to the latest technological advancements to increase border security, at all border checkpoints but not least in the airport environment. As traveller numbers steadily increase year-on-year, it is critical to maintain utmost security while streamlining the passenger processing system in order to keep ground delays to a minimum.
Self-service kiosks and biometric systems from providers such as Gemalto, SITA and Rockwell Collins are amongst the most popular with passengers, allowing them to take greater control of their travel experience and reducing queueing time.
Self-service and common-use systems provide airlines with an opportunity to share costs and reduce the time spent micro-managing the passenger check-in process, while airports regain valuable terminal space and personnel time, which can be better utilised to maximise operational productivity.
Zurich Airport has made improvements to its border management system with the installation of a new biometric Advanced Border Control System from Secunet AG. The system upgrade has given Zurich Airport an almost automated process for checking passenger documentation and has also increased flexibility for the airport, almost completely replacing the previous infrastructure for border management.
The inclusion of a fingerprint reader ensures Swiss compliance with mandatory regulations (VIS II) and electronic passport readers have streamlined the passenger processing system for the inspection and checking of identification.
The new system offers airport police the opportunity to access real-time information as the Secunet technology serves as a central interface.
“Travellers and border control staff now have access to the most state-of-the-art border control system in Europe,” said Dr. Rainer Baumgart, chairman of the board at Secunet AG. “The highly modular Secunet biomiddle solution and the new user interface, developed in partnership with the Zurich Cantonal Police, have set new standards in border control technology.”
Airport workstations have been connected to Swiss Police databases as a major part of the infrastructure upgrade process.
As airport traffic increases exponentially each year by an average of 5%, the need for streamlined automated border control processes also increases if ground delays are to be minimised and operational productivity at a high level.
Automated border control technology providers are under increasing pressure to maintain high levels of security across borders all over the world.