Skip to main content Skip to Footer

LATEST THINKING


Automated border clearance at Schiphol Airport

The head of the Dutch Border Management Program talks about the 36 eGates installed at Amsterdam airport.

Overview

The number of passengers arriving at European airports is growing all the time. According to a recent study conducted by EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, the number of passengers passing through European airports is expected to almost double by 2030. In order to increase capacity at airports while at the same time making border controls more secure, the EU is promoting the introduction of electronic visas and the use of electronic and biometric automated border control systems.

In this interview Kier-co Gerritsen, responsible for the border management program at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and advisor on Belgian activities regarding the introduction of border management, talks about opportunities, challenges, achievements and lessons learned during implementation of the solution at Schiphol Airport.

Background

Over recent years, the Dutch authorities responsible for internal security and the operator of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam have been gaining experience in automated border control. Working together with Accenture and Vision-Box, they have developed and now operate 36 automated border control systems, as well as the related back-end infrastructure. These self-service border control systems reduce the time taken for passengers to clear customs, while at the same time meeting stringent security requirements. They also fulfill the regulations set out by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) and by national legislation.

Analysis

Ranked as Europe’s fourth largest airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol processes over 50 million passengers a year and more than 130,000 tonnes of cargo per month. With an annual expected growth in passengers of approximately 5 percent, but no anticipated increases to its more than 400 border guards, airport executives were all too aware of the need to achieve speed and mobility while enhancing security and safety for travelers and trade.

The eGates are run in a "Gate-as-a-Service" model. Each party concentrates on what it does best. Public agencies and airport operators on one side understand the business and set performance and quality indicators, solution providers on the other bring in technological and functional expertise and a broad knowledge of similar installations. This also facilitates harmonization of processes and service operations at an EU level.

Recommendations

Quality, standardization and connectivity are the big issues. And as more countries begin to implement an ABC solution starting from scratch, there is a need for EU standards for quality, performance, technology solutions and operation procedures. An integrated approach is required, an overall strategy for collaborative development in the Schengen area over the coming years.

There is also huge potential to connect national systems to allow the exchange of data and knowledge—to ease rollouts of ABC systems and fight organized crime and terrorism. Corresponding auditing standards will also be needed to check border security regularly and further secure the Schengen borders.