By Deniz Yurdasen, Sales Manager, Aratek Biometrics
In 20th century, with technological development and faster transportation, countries found themselves facing mass human movement, where people move for immigration, Tourism, Business, Education, Seeking Asylum or Refuge purposes. Millions of people are moving daily, which can be hard to control. While visa schemes somewhat filter unwanted applicants, they are far from perfect in eliminating ill-intentioned individuals who are looking to disrupt other communities’ daily lives or directly target their lives through terrorism.
Despite the YoY reduction in deaths, the number of attacks rose from 4,458 in 2020 to 5,226 in 2021, a 17% increase and the highest number of attacks recorded since 2007. In 2021, 25 countries saw fewer deaths by terrorism, while 21 countries reported increases, and 117 countries recorded no change in the number of deaths.
Hence, countries found themselves exposed to these threats and started to look for solutions where they could provide security for their own citizens. Methods like surveillance, spy cells, digital tracing, and even sometimes draconian measures are used to ensure public security. But keeping the threats outside the border turns out to be the best solution. Also defined threats need to be caged inside of borders and don’t spread to other countries.
With global collaboration and international security agencies (Interpol, Frontex), information sharing between different security forces included sharing fingerprint and face images thanks to the deployment of biometrics. All the data needed to correctly identify the suspect before entering or exiting the country is valuable for security forces since suspects also use various disguise methods to avoid being caught.
Since biometric solutions have proven to have a high success rate for identification, countries are beginning to implement them at the first line of defense: regional or national borders.
Today, modern border security includes multiple factor biometric identification and verification:
Countries opt for different methods to find the most secure, fastest, and smoothest methods to make sure border crossing is not a burden for passengers and security forces.
Let’s take a look at the latest border security measures and technologies, which include biometrics:
These gates are controlled by border security officers, and passengers need to give their fingerprints and a face photo at the border to be included in a database. There is almost no biometric verification. And ID verification is done manually by the officer.
Probably the most popular automated border security solution in recent years. Multiple choices of biometric ID verification and passport/ID check are supported by the turnstile design. The device is connected to a local database of citizens to complete ID verification and secure pass permission. Passport reading, fingerprinting, and/or face recognition are the most commonly used biometric methods.Since many countries now already have an almost complete fingerprint and face image database, this option has the best C/P value. It provides a high security level, and the investment cost is not very high.
Some countries started to introduce iris recognition, while others kicked off using palm veins on e-gates. The number of e-gate units deployed globally is expected to quadruple from 1,100 in 2013 to more than 5,000 in 2022, according to security reports. Although most e-gates have been deployed in airports in Europe, Australia, and Asia; in recent years, Middle east and African countries have exponential growth.
This method is relatively new. During the visa application process, the applicant reads a reference sentence and provides a sample of his or her voice. When the passenger arrives at the destination, during passport control by an officer, the passenger reads the same sample sentence, and the system compares and verifies the voice data. Compared to fingerprinting, civil use of voice recognition is new, and algorithm development is needed for further adoption. Not to mention, only a few countries have a limited voice database.
As much as it sounds very cool and futuristic, currently AI usage in e-gates are either enhancing verification success ratio, or combining multiple factor biometric methods together to verify the ID.
AI-gate idea includes identification of the passenger in the airport while on the go, to reduce waiting time and queues for departure. While AI powered luggage screening has been implemented; fully automated, paperless AI-Gates are still being tested.
Another aspect of border security is refugees. Due to wars, political, economic instability, people look for refuge in neighboring or even farther countries; often moving in mass numbers. This gives border security systems a sudden peak burden that is hard to handle smoothly. According to UN report by the end of 2021, 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.
This includes 27.1million refugees; 53.2 million internally displaced people. Registering the incoming refugees with their biometric data is a crucial necessity, due to it is impossible to do background check like a regular visa applicant. In almost all cases, the host country immediately accepts the refugees to avoid humanitarian disasters, creating an internal security weakness.
Biometric solutions allow refugees to be identified quickly and accurately, which is necessary for effective management. This can help prevent the possibility of multiple people using one identity, stop potential fraud, and identify potential terrorists posing as refugees. Furthermore, it enables government workers to optimize their resources by effectively tracking and allocating them where needed.
The most commonly used methods of registration are fingerprinting and taking a digital picture of the face. Mobile technology such as tablets and smartphones is often used for these activities, meaning that the data can be securely transferred and shared with other countries across the refugee resettlement process. Subsidies can also be correctly allocated using biometric data, ensuring that everyone who requires assistance receives it.
While border security remains a top priority, there is discussion about how to expedite passenger entry approval. Several novel approaches are proposed, including biometric flight control, a global visa scheme, regional visa-free movement agreements, and so on. Governments are spending big budgets to increase the security and firewall of the border by using a combination of different technologies. In these custom methods, biometrics is one of the common parameters that everyone wants to use.
In conclusion, "eye on the borders" is an important initiative that has the potential to revolutionize border security and reduce illegal immigration. Biometric solutions provide a simple yet powerful way to verify identity and enhance security. Implementing these solutions at ports of entry allows for improved tracking of travelers and can help prevent dangerous individuals from entering the country. Furthermore, biometrics can boost efficiency, reduce wait times for travelers, and ensure that only authorized individuals have access to restricted areas.