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Border management solutions: Going with the flow

Helping border agencies to exploit technology convergence to gain consistent, comprehensive and automated border management

Overview

With a growing traveling population and the virtualization of physical borders, the need to better facilitate legitimate trade and travel, prevent illegal immigration or identity fraud and tighten security measures at land, sea or air border crossings around the world is undisputed. Indeed, early in 2013, the European Union identified a need for the “next generation of border checks” with a proposal for a European Union entry/exit system. The proposed system would monitor travel flows and movements of third-country nationals across the external border for the Schengen area as a whole—an initiative that has positive implications for data sharing across the region and frequent travelers.

Hear from speakers at the smart borders conference including Ger Daly, global managing director -Defense & Public Safety, providing their views on Entry/Exit Systems and how this can support smarter and more secure borders in Europe.

Background

Although several countries have already begun to tackle the issues of entry and exit, being able to tie together data on when someone has entered a country and when they left is currently lacking. For instance, at present in Europe entry and exit records cannot be matched when persons leave the Schengen area through any other Member State than the one from which they entered and in which their entry was recorded.

Due to the absence of collaborative systems, statistics about border crossings are limited, but according to the most recent data provided by the European Union Member States there were 669 million external border crossings in 2009, 675 million in 2010, and 700 million in 2011, including European Union citizens and third-country nationals. And those numbers, especially at the largest and busiest border crossing points, have been increasing and are expected to continue to do so in the future.

While many European countries have entry/exit systems in place—Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain—these systems often have limited information gathering capabilities and do not enable information sharing, rendering the data less useful in the context of broader traveler behavior and movement. Indeed, a lack of interoperability, for instance between immigration systems, can have considerable repercussions.

Analysis

Assessments undertaken by Accenture in 2009 in the United States indicate the potential viability of air and land exit systems. In a voluntary air exit system pilot, more than 30,000 aliens out of 500,000 travelers were biometrically processed and just one person of that number refused to cooperate. The effect on average boarding time was negligible; at most two minutes and eight seconds was added to the traveler journey time. What is more, from 93.4 percent of selected international flights, there was no conclusive impact to flight departure time.

Unlike at airports and sea ports, minimal formal processes and infrastructure currently exist to manage departing travelers at land ports. Each year, there are more than 300 million crossings into the United States at roughly 170 land border ports with Canada and Mexico. While monitoring who enters and exits is of paramount importance to the United States’ national security and the integrity of its immigration system, controlling the 7,500 miles of land border is no easy or inexpensive task. The result of the Accenture assessment was a recommendation for a cost-conscious, segmented approach that balances port volumes and configurations, transportation modalities, compliance and security. In addition, any comprehensive land exit solution needs to be consistent with other travel-related encounters (such as visa issuances), use an informed-compliance solution model where in-scope travelers are educated and expected to self-report as they exit, and continue to use fingerprint scans as the primary biometric.

Recommendations

For an entry/exit program to succeed, it needs to minimize effects on travelers and other stakeholders as well as provide a high level of integrity in data collection and processing so that decision making and law enforcement efforts are as efficient as possible.

Specific goals when implementing an entry/exit system include:

  • Help travelers move efficiently through borders with a system that is fast and inclusive.

  • Be intuitive, with a minimal learning curve and proper outreach.

  • Focus on security that aids the officer and a system that is accurate, spoof resistant, and offers a “point of no return.”

  • Use cost effective deployment models that lower total cost of ownership, improve throughput and reduce footprint.

  • Adopt an approach that is privacy conscious, secures information, and complies with relevant laws and policies.

  • Be adaptable to changes in policy, adversarial strategies, and technological trends.