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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.

Airport Terminal Sign

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.

Possible Issues

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

Overall

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.

Source: Engadget

Australia to Revolutionize Immigration Process with Biometrics
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Comments

  • Of course, some biometric data is already embedded in passports these days – the big chip in the middle.

  • I wish they could just have visa on arrival.

  • Interesting! I’ve always wanted to visit Australia, and at first this sounds like a positive – making it easier to travel there. But on the other hand, the thought of all the privacy given up is a scary thought.

  • Hopefully this will become implemented in the near future. I hope it replaces the slow lines during the busy times

  • Eventually we’ll see more and more of this. It’s the natural progression. We’re paying with phones now and tracking things in so many ways. People will rightfully have security concerns, but those concerns have never really stopped people from progressing with these type of advancements…right or wrong.

  • It will be interesting to see how secure this can be made. For me the benefit is not worth the cost.

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    It’s only a matter of time before all countries will adopt such technology, it’s the world we live in today.

  • I think the roll out schedule is very ambitious. My biggest fear is that someone will hack the database.

  • Visa on arrival, please. This would avoid all scams with websites pretending to be the AUS govt.

  • Don’t let best get in the way of better. While biometrics may not be the best solution for customs, it certainly is a better way to do so might as well go for it. Props to AUS for leading in this regard.

  • I’m actually kind of surprised this is the first of its kind.

  • I was flew into Melbourne in May 2016, it was so easy, they scanned your passport and you were on your way, did not talk to a single agent nor did they look in any of my luggage, seems to me this was the case for US citizens and Korea and New Zealanders only. Very simple, the people in Australia are so nice, I can;t wait to go again! Now coming back threw LAX was a different SLOW experience, so SLOW I missed my connecting flight as well as others on our Syd to LAX flight, I was even in the express line for US citizens with a connecting flight.

  • Sounds cool. But the privacy issues need to be sorted

  • I have no desire to give big brother more info than they already have

  • Let’s hope so that this technology will bring a reduction of waiting time at the airports.
    Actually, I think that the security controls have more impact. They apply on every trip not only when you arrive in a new country.

  • The TSA Pre Check system uses thumb print technology.

  • Is this similar to the perks of having Global Entry?

  • Interesting idea but unless the customs officers are completely inept and slow I’m usually through customs before my bags are out anyway.

  • Are we at Gatica yet?

  • I have very mixed feelings about this. Part of me thinks this is great as it will make things so much quicker and more efficient. The other part of me is concerned about the security implications, both cyber, and from removing the human element. It probably is the way everything will be in the future though anyway.

  • Wish they devise something to reduce the queue at customs after luggage claim. Never faced more rigorous checking in any other country.

  • Technologies are moving ever faster and my worries about privacy issues increase with every new thing that comes down the pike. It’s really difficult to be sure yet just how I feel about this.

  • You still need to go through the “agriculture” quarantine screening with human agents from the Australian government anyway LOL

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