Rethinking Border Control

December 23, 2020

By Frank Steffens

As we enter 2021, and with Covid-19 vaccination programmes being rolled out around the world, international travel could finally be back on the cards. Experts are hoping that confidence will return to the global travel sector, so border authorities will need to be ready to handle the increase in passenger numbers by ensuring that the border control experience is quick, easy and secure.

Already established automated border control (ABC) gates have proven that automation is a key factor to accelerate border control processes. Further, biometric self-service systems play a pivotal role to streamline new passenger processes at the border.
Self service and EES

In the EU, the focus is on the common biometric Entry/Exit System (EES) , which comes into force in 2022 and will require all third country nationals (TCNs) to register as part of the Smart Borders Initiative. Under this system, TCNs will be required to register with four fingerprints and a facial image when they enter the Schengen area via land, sea or air borders.

The biometric data captured at the border will be stored in the EES, together with the identity data and other information taken from the travel document, to create an individual file for each traveller. Each time the traveller enters or exits the Schengen area, this data is recorded in their individual EES file with the digitally stored information replacing the previous manual stamping procedure.

The increased security required by EES means that border authorities are rethinking their border control infrastructure. One option is the use of kiosks, which can help reduce overall operating costs; enable authorities to scale up flexibly to cope with changing demand; speed up passenger ID processes; and free up border security officers to focus more closely on enforcement and intelligence efforts.

There’s a sound reason for using kiosks, as European pilot project revealed. It recorded a doubling in wait times for TCNs if additional biometric data acquisition and central EES system searches were performed entirely at the manual border control desk. It also revealed that the inspection time for travellers requiring a visa fell by an average of 60% and for visa-exempt travellers by an average of 58%.

Not all kiosks are equal

When choosing a biometric kiosk, it’s essential to check that it delivers on accuracy, high-quality image capture and anti-spoofing capabilities. It is advisable to select kiosks with presentation attack detection (PAD) conforming to ISO/IEC 30107-3:2017, to provide you with the confidence that the system hasn’t been spoofed. To ensure the system is capable of capturing high-quality images, it is recommendable to look for kiosks that comply with ISO 19794-5:2011 for facial im-ages and NFIQ 2.0 for fingerprints. An integrated camera that automatically adapts its capture position to each passenger’s height guarantees optimum, fast and high-quality capture of facial images. And, of course, it is wise to provide travellers with clear instructions on how to use the technology.

New normal

As traveller confidence returns, easy, quick and hassle-free travel will be an important part of our global economy. Citizens need to feel confident about travelling and authorities need assurance that their borders are secure. Well implemented kiosk systems that combine anti-spoofing techniques and high-quality biometric processes are key to the new normal of border control.
For more information on this topic you may download our white paper “Kiosk systems in border control”

About the author

Frank Steffens heads the product management department in the Homeland Security division at secunet, Germany's leading IT security company. He holds a degree in Computer Science and has joined secunet in 1998. Working in product management since 2006, Frank has helped to design and develop several of secunet’s products in the area of biometrics, identity documents and border control.

For more information on this topic you may download our white paper “Kiosk systems in border control”