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The era of long lines to pass through immigration may finally be coming to an end, at least in Australia. A new system is being developed to allow travelers to disembark from their flight and walk straight through the airport and out, without the need to talk to anyone or even speak to a single immigration officer. A new system, the Seamless Traveler, aims to be able to process up to 90% of travelers this way.
The Era of Biometrics
The new system builds on the latest developments in biometrics and would use a combination of facial recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint scans. It is envisioned to be more efficient, allowing the bulk of travelers through, which in turn lets the immigration authorities focus their efforts and resources on more high-risk travelers.
Travelers would be able to self-process through immigration, by just walking down specific corridors, in which embedded biometric scanners would automatically capture their data and compare it to an established database. The Australian government envisions this system replacing the current generation of smart gate technologies prevalent in Australian airports.
Time to Perfect
Although some biometric scanners are currently being used in some US airports, they are only being used to confirm Passport identities, and not as a replacement of the whole immigration process. Although the technology for seamless biometric scanning is unavailable, the Australian government believes that it is nearly there and has started asking companies to present bids to provide a solution to its seamless traveler program.
The government plans to start a pilot scheme at Canberra airport in July 2017, and then roll out the program nationwide by 2019.
There are two fundamental issues with the proposed system. First, travelers would initially have to agree to have their biometric data taken and registered, with all the security implications this has since not even the Australian government is immune to hacking. The second is general privacy and justice concerns since errors with facial recognition have led to wrongful convictions, racial profiling, and other unfortunate incidents. This'll require a significant amount of additional trust in the government
This could turn out to be the future of air travel and will go a long way to reducing the waiting time and general inconvenience of immigration while allowing the authorities to better focus their resources. Turning international travel into what seems like domestic travel while maintaining the same degree of scrutiny and improved security could only be a great thing for everyone involved.
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