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The digital traveler

Automating border management solutions to facilitate travel and enhance security.


Travel can be both exciting and rewarding; yet often, with the additional screening and identification that has been institutionalized over the past few decades, the process that surrounds it can also disappoint. With the introduction of automated border clearance and the employment of digital technologies, reduced passenger processing time is becoming a reality—and not at the expense of security. By creating a positive end-to-end travel experience, border management solutions can benefit both travelers and border agencies responsible for travel safety and enable admission. For the traveler, opting in to registered travel programs and providing a biometrically-enabled identity can save time and protect privacy.

As a recent study by Accenture found, 89 percent of people are comfortable sharing biometrics in the context of traveling across international borders and 62 percent say they would be likely to share biometric data specifically to improve border security. For border agencies, the opportunity to assess the relative risk of each traveler in advance and focus on the unknowns in real time helps deliver public service for the future.

Mark Crego, Global Managing Director, Accenture Border and Identity Services shares insights on the digital traveler and the future of biometrics.

Filmed at Smart Borders 2014 Krum Garkov, Information Systems Executive Director -European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT (EU-LISA) shares his perspectives on Smart Borders and the digital traveler.


In recent years, any gains in passenger throughput have been matched by the growth in demand for travel; it is a global phenomenon. In the European Union there are more than 700 million border crossings a year, with projected air crossings likely to increase 80 percent by 2030, while visitors to the United States are expected to grow at about 4 percent through 2018 to a total of 85 million visitors per year. An Asia-Pacific industry forecast indicates that there is likely to be an additional 300 million passengers, 75 percent of which are expected to be domestic passengers. Ongoing increases in cross-border travel highlight the need to adapt border management processes using greater automation and threat analysis.

But in reality, measures that may assist, such as the proposed “smart borders” recommendations from the European Union—which includes rolling out a registered traveler program and an entry and exit system for European member states—may take some time to gain agreement. Indeed, in its report released in May 2013, the GAO noted that unmatched arrival records—those that do not have corresponding departure records—remain open and may explain some of its backlog of 1.6 million potential overstay records. Overall, proposals for policies to standardize across regions and geographies are both compelling and daunting.


By automating travel processes using digital technologies—whether self-service kiosks or mobile check in or employing analytics or biometrics—border management agencies can facilitate legitimate travel without negatively impacting security.

From a business perspective, there are some leading practice examples of border management automation across Europe. For instance, in a project undertaken by Accenture, the successful implementation of 36 eGates at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands saw more than 210,000 passengers through the eGates in six weeks, with passengers being processed in less than 15 seconds. As a terminal with an annual expected growth in passengers of approximately 5 percent but no anticipated increases to its more than 400 border guards, the airport’s new approach has realized returns in respect of greater speed and efficiency, more enjoyable customer experiences and an ability to meet global travel demands. What is more, Accenture was named “ICT provider of the year 2013;” the award noted the innovative nature of the solution that went beyond eGates to realizing a productive system that adds value to Dutch society and government.


By implementing a series of manageable projects that create “bottom up and top down” changes, border management agencies can offer more efficient, secure movement of travelers and goods. Indeed, smart gates and registered travel programs could be an effective path to enhancing biometrics acceptance at customs and border control—our research found that 80 percent of those who have used an eGate or smart gate once are likely to do so again.

Digital technologies—whether related to mobility, analytics, social or cloud—are helping to accelerate the flow and reliability of information that is the core of border management processes—from smartphone check in through to “face in the crowd” border controls.

What is more, digital technologies are changing the face of airport and border operations as we know them. By combining technological capabilities with a careful blend of automation and validation throughout the entire process, travel experiences can be enhanced. Using this cohesive approach, the traveler expectations for speed, efficiency, security and satisfaction can be met and border management agencies are one step further on their journey toward public service for the future.