How is biometric technology set to overcome border control challenges accelerated by the coronavirus?
How is biometric technology set to overcome border control challenges accelerated by the coronavirus? Biometric trends during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing upheaval for border control as each country has introduced individual measures to try and stop the spread of the virus. Border control officials have been supporting health officials by checking vaccination proofs, for example. This means that border control officials have to grapple with a barrage of fast and ever-changing entry requirements, travel restrictions and passenger exemptions.
The rules vary according to the country of origin and destination and the citizen’s status. Australia, for example, has closed its borders and only lets in individuals with certain exemptions, such as permanent residents arriving from overseas .
The health crisis has even pushed several Schengen area member states to temporarily reintroduce internal controls at the border to stem the spread of new coronavirus variants. Citizens can normally freely travel around the 26 countries of the Schengen area without being subject to border checks .
These new requirements all add up to time-consuming bureaucracy. For example, this is prolonging the processing of UK nationals to 15 minutes per person from a mere 30 seconds pre-COVID states one Border Force officer at London Heathrow airport .
Despite fluctuating risk levels and changing restrictions, governments need to agilely deal with escalating security requirements and reduce ongoing security threats while providing resilient border management, solid working conditions for staff, and a pleasant and seamless travel experience for passengers.
Biometrics are an answer to current COVID-19 border control challenges
Thankfully, advances in biometrics technology can help support border control management, particularly during COVID-19. Take 3-D facial recognition, for example. Here, 3-D sensors capture facial features, which algorithms then transform into digital data. 3-D facial recognition is a step ahead of its 2-D counterpart as it’s not vulnerable to bad lighting, a poor focus or an angled face position and detects facial features regardless.
Or how about iris recognition. This highly accurate biometric identification method takes a high-contrast photograph of a person’s iris - iris-scanning cameras measure the patterns in a person’s eye to create an individual profile. As no two irises are the same and irises don’t change during a person’s life, it’s an ideal solution for quickly identifying travelers as they enter and exit countries by land, sea, and air. For example, due to the ongoing pandemic, passengers need to wear facemasks while they travel. Iris recognition is a reliable form of identification even with a facemask. The most sophisticated iris technologies even verify people while they are on the move, and don’t require them to stand still, close to the camera.
Alone, each of the above represents a sophisticated solution for border control. However, in combination, they provide rapid, highly accurate, extremely secure biometric systems. And travelers don’t even need to stop and stand still in front of a kiosk.
Overall, the use of touchless biometrics, for example, touchless fingerprint scanners, can help with identity verification while keeping health and safety in mind during health crises such as COVID-19.
D4Fly works on biometrics solutions
D4Fly (Detecting Document fraud and iDentity on the fly) illustrates how working together can strengthen document and identity verification for border control . Set up in 2019, this EU-funded project is led by Veridos and aims to offer seamless, real-time, on-the-fly border identity verification, which guarantees high accuracy.
Veridos is working with 18 other international partners on the project and acting as its overall coordinator. The international team is researching innovative solutions to combat identity verification challenges, such as forged documents, imposter fraud and face morphing.
One focus of the project is to develop a biometric corridor. This aims to speed up border control while ensuring ease of use for passengers and remaining fully compliant with EU data protection and privacy regulations. Before starting their journey, passengers will voluntarily register their passport and biometric characteristics at special enrollment kiosks. Then, as they approach the checkpoint at their destination, they walk through a biometric corridor, where multiple cameras and different biometric sensors check captured data against the previous reference data for rapid, secure verification.
Iris-on-the-go verification is among the technologies to be tested within the corridor. “The iris has proven to be a great biometric feature because it does not change throughout a person’s lifetime, it is unique, and it allows touchless verification even while the person is moving,” said Andreas Räschmeier, CEO of Veridos.
Veridos and its partners are continually devising other state-of-the-art border control solutions to counter misuse and manipulation. For example, preventing presentation attacks, where face masks are used to circumvent biometric verification technology. Highly advanced biometric technologies are being researched for counter spoofing and advanced morphed face detection algorithms through Convolutional Neural Networks, and Deep Neutral Networks for imposter and document fraud detection.
The corona crisis may have presented border control with numerous new challenges. And further obstacles undoubtedly lie ahead. Biometric technology can, however, enable governments and law enforcement officers to address these challenges - and overcome them. Pioneering biometric technology is poised to change the future face of border security, guaranteeing security while facilitating the passenger travel experience, regardless of what challenges lie in its path.
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