How eTravel is making border security a breeze

When it comes to our borders, you may think that ensuring either convenience or security compromises the other. But today’s technology can offer us the best of both worlds.

Travellers arriving in Australia are tracked from the moment they apply for a visa. With government officials predicting that there will be 50 million border crossings by 2020, immigration authorities will need innovative ways to not only keep our borders secure, but also ensure the process is quick and efficient. Officials are already looking for solutions that integrate security with efficiency.

From July of 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) will merge to become The Australian Border Force. This agency will focus solely on border operations, allowing officials to move resources from administrative duties to the front lines. Most importantly, it will allow officials to better integrate digital security solutions into our border processes.

Governments and organisations around the world are moving from paper to electronic identity documents and solutions. In fact, Australia was one of the first to embrace ePassport technology. By late 2015, officials say most Australian passports will be ePassports, containing a digital photograph and encrypted details. It’s also predicted that more than 50 per cent of all passports in circulation in 2017 will include an embedded microprocessor.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the global border control and biometric market -- which includes technology such as fingerprint and facial recognition scanning -- will be valued at $15 billion in 2021. These electronic solutions are already transforming the transport industry, securing borders and simplifying travel in some surprising destinations.

For instance, Moldova is getting ready to deploy the next generation of ePassports that will add security and convenience and allow citizens to travel to countries within the European Union without a visa. The new ePassport, which is set to roll out in a few months, is embedded with a contactless microprocessor that stores a digital portrait and two fingerprint scans.

With the ePassport, officials have a secure and reliable method for authenticating travellers’ identities and can facilitate a smoother border crossing. It will also be one of the first in the world to incorporate the latest security measures mandated by the EU to protect the access to the data stored in the microprocessor.

Similar solutions are already up and running in Algeria, where embedded eTravel software is improving the production capacity of the country’s ePassport program. The solution helps the government improve the personalisation of the ePassports and reduce the costs associated with issuing them, with minimal impact to efficiency at the borders.

There are other examples: Croatia is upgrading its border control system to incorporate a mobile version that can run in biometric handheld devices; and major international airports are now equipped with electronic gates to simplify automatic border crossing. These “Smart Gates”, which are up and running in eight international airports across Australia, can process ePassports from several countries and utilise facial recognition technology to offer an accurate yet unobtrusive form of identification.

While immigration officials predict 90 per cent of travellers in Australia will use these e-Gates by 2020, research suggests travellers would be receptive to even further advances. Unisys’ latest Security Index shows that 75 per cent of Australians would be willing to provide a fingerprint or photograph to an automated boarding gate to confirm their identities when boarding a flight. Similarly, 71 per cent of respondents say they are willing to provide biometric data to prove they are low-risk frequent travellers. 

Border agencies are being asked to cope with an increase in travellers while meeting stricter security measures. Implementing more digital security measures will allow departments to better integrate and verify information between borders and within local law enforcement departments. This will allow authorities to more easily identify security risks and reduce fraud, while offering legitimate travellers a fast, low-touch, seamless experience at the border.

Michael Connory is sales manager at Gemalto.