Facial recognition technology to replace passport checks
Border control tech players Vision-Box will deliver part of a radical Immigration Department overhaul for Australia’s airports that will do away with passport scans for travellers.
The government has awarded the company a three-year, $22.5 million contract to install upgraded biometric scanning for most international passengers as Immigration bids to speed up the flow of travellers.
Using facial recognition technology, passengers known to Immigration will be able to self-process their border entry without a passport check.
Immigration wants to run an initial trial at Canberra Airport in late 2017 and finish the roll-out by mid 2019.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the technology would improve the efficiency and speed of border processing for travellers.
As the number of passengers and crew cleared through the border at Australian airports each year is projected to rise 25 per cent to 50 million by 2020, Immigration wants 90 per cent of eligible travellers self-processing at the border by then.
The Immigration Department has sought technology that would abolish incoming passenger cards and replace manned desks with electronic stations and automatic triage.
The plan goes much further than the SmartGates currently installed at some airports that require passports to be scanned electronically. Those gates, introduced less than 10 years ago, will be retired as part of the new “contactless” system.
Global tech giants IBM and Hewlett-Packard are among IT firms to have shown interest in other border control changes that will replace plane ticket checks and passenger cards for travellers.
They joined Telstra and Japanese tech company Fujitsu attending a briefing on a tender for technology that will collect personal information from incoming passengers and remove Australian Border Force officials’ reliance on tickets.
The changes come as Immigration floats a plan to let private operators run large parts of Australia’s visa system and charge migrants in a bid to avoid cost blow-outs and cope with booming visitor demand.
Vast swathes of its visa system would gradually move to private companies in contracts valued together up to $9 billion over ten years, a cost burden that could be heaped partly on migrants and travellers through user charges.
Immigration has briefed industry players in San Francisco, Singapore and Bangalore, and has also invited artificial intelligence and robotics companies to help it design a new visa system in a bid to automate more assessments, potentially with AI.