Automated Border Control Kiosks Must for Airport Security, Efficiency

This investment in systems that keep the flow moving at an acceptable rate for passengers, even at peak times, ensures sufficient security in a way that’s cost-effective and functionally efficient.

  Maneesh Jaikrishna No wonder borders are under pressure. Air traffic has doubled in the past 15 years and is expected to double again in the next 15. Although shocks such as the 2008 financial crisis had a massive impact at the time, air traffic rebounds even stronger. Not only are there more passengers. There are more routes, more frequent flights and more per flight capacity. If we look at the statistics, Airbus forecasts that over the next 18 years, passenger numbers will grow by 4.7% CAGR – from 2.9bn in 2012 to 6.7bn in 2032. Over the same period, the passenger fleet will more than double, from 16,094 aircraft to 33,651.The top 20 airports by passenger number saw those numbers increase by an average of 5% last year, according to FlightGlobal. The top 10 fastest growing airports saw an increase of 17% in passenger numbers – spread across four continents. At the same time, the globalization of goods and services has been mirrored by the global spread of terrorism. The Global Terrorism Database for 2013 reflects a swathe of incidents worldwide, requiring greater vigilance and more stringent measures to ensure the safety of passengers. Stretched resources Resources are stretched for both airports and border authorities. Passengers want to be secure, of course, but they also don’t want security processes to create delays. Airports and border authorities have to cope with the normal while preparing for the abnormal. One way to reduce hassle and burden on already stretched resources is by installing automated border control (ABC) kiosks at the airport which uses advanced biometric technology to streamline border control procedures and process passengers securely. This investment in systems that keep the flow moving at an acceptable rate for passengers, even at peak times, ensures sufficient security in a way that’s cost-effective and functionally efficient. Self-service inevitability In old money, the answer would be more staffing. But that has significant cost implications, not least in recruitment and training costs, workspace costs and speed. Moreover, qualified border officers’ time is arguably too precious to spend on the vast low-risk majority – it’s better used dealing with potential risk situations. In an era when people prefer to manage their own itineraries, self-service border automation, such as automated gates and kiosks, is both the inevitable and the best solution. Border agency staff can do more with less without compromising security – our experience has shown that with automation capacity can be increased by as much as 400%. Also, for airports which are experiencing strong passenger growth, these kinds of automated solutions are becoming increasingly important to help manage greater volumes of passengers securely and efficiently. Recently Abu Dhabi airport installed kiosks for self-service immigration. The whole process takes less than 60 seconds and it’s very efficient. Passengers simply scan their passports to identify themselves, provide their fingerprints and a camera on the kiosk captures their face biometric. The passport and biometric information captured is then cross-referenced to verify the passenger is who they claim to be and then checked against government watch lists. There are several immigration questions the passenger needs to answer on the kiosk touch screen, and once cleared, the kiosk prints out a receipt to show as they exit the customs hall. Integrated Automation plays a significant role in the delivery of a modern, effective, efficient border operation. But we must remember that it’s not the answer on its own. Automation is not just about queue busting, though of course that’s a major objective. It also plays a key role in making the immigration process faster and easier as part of an integrated, modern border control effort that embraces biometrics, advance passenger information and other capabilities to rapidly obtain clear intelligence and insights. Consider the perspective of cost per traveller. Automation offers a rapid, reliable system that can deal with the vast majority of travellers who pose no concern. In the USA, airports and passengers are enjoying a huge improvement of border and immigration since the introduction of SITA’s automated kiosks. The wait for passengers has decreased by as much as 40% without compromising the security demands of the US Customs and Border Protection. Balanced Manual solutions are also needed to deal with the extreme minority and with unexpected glitches. Border agencies need a balance of manual and automated solutions to strike the right balance of security versus traveller facilitation, at the right cost. If airports and border agencies can apply the latest in biometric, trusted ID, and self-service technologies then we’re en route to resolving the challenge. Embracing self-service automation is the smart move to make at the border, as part of an integrated border portfolio. Hours cut to seconds The benefit of automated border gates for passengers is considerable. Waiting times at security checkpoints can be reduced from hours to seconds. Passengers can be processed through automated border gates in seconds. This also addresses a major cause of stress for passengers. The 2014 SITA/ATW Passenger Self-Service Survey found that 31% of passengers saw the security checkpoint as their number one travel pain point. That's twice as many as the next most stressful step. But it's not only passengers who want a hassle-free security experience. Airports and airlines also stand to gain. Less queuing equates to more time for passengers to enjoy the amenities and reduces the number of late-shows at the gate, keeping airlines on schedule. Biometrics Biometrics give governments a new weapon in the fight against illegal immigration, people trafficking, terrorism, drug-smuggling and other crimes. Combined with airline passenger data-screening and tools, biometrics can help governments improve border security and reduce the impact of document and identity fraud. At the same time, they can expedite the travels of ordinary civilians. Biometrics will be most effective when integrated with airline and airport processes to streamline aviation operations, making travel seamless, cost-effective and efficient. This will boost travel and tourism as well as help reconcile information collected upon arrival with that collected on departure, allowing government agencies to know exactly who is still in the country and who has left. Maneesh Jaikrishna is Vice President - India & Subcontinent, SITA


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