Due to recent terrorist attacks, governments all around the world are looking for ways to tighten the security of their borders. They are experimenting with new technology solutions to ensure strong national security, and one of these technologies is biometric facial recognition. This powerful, versatile human identification technology has a strong chance of becoming the future default security platform for border control all across the world.
Facial recognition technology explained
Face recognition technology identifies or authenticates individuals by comparing their face against a database of known faces. The process can be broken down into 3 general steps:
- The computer finds the face in the image.
- A numeric representation of the face is created based on the relative position, size and shape of facial features.
- The numeric “map” of the face in the image is compared to database images of previously identified faces, for example, an ePassport photograph database.
The use of this kind of recognition is used to confirm or discover a person’s identity and this technology can be used to check whether an individual has submitted a passport application under more than one name. Other uses include medical identity theft and healthcare fraud protection, facility or equipment access control or workforce management employee identification.
Why use it for border control?
The use of facial recognition for border control has numerous advantages, including:
Using facial recognition for traveler identification is convenient because they can scan their passport and proceed to the exit without receiving assistance from an immigration official for processing. This will reduce unnecessary processing time consumption and increase convenience.
In 2010, the U.S National Institute of Standards and Technology tested various facial recognition systems and found that the best algorithm correctly recognized 92% of unknown individuals from a database of 1.6 million subjects. Facial recognition technology provides high levels of human identification accuracy which increases border security. Facial recognition biometrics also eliminates the possibility of human error in immigration processing.
Facial recognition technology allows border control agents to automate passport checks providing immigration officials the opportunity to concentrate on other important activities such as eliminating terrorism threats at the border.
Due to its passive nature, facial recognition is often favored over other forms of biometric identification such as fingerprinting for border control. Facial recognition devices used to take traveler images do not require any physical contact helping to increase acceptability among travelers.
Who’s using it now?
Many developed countries have already launched pilot projects to evaluate the future of facial recognition. Here are some of the early adopters:
- The US Department of Homeland Security announced that Customs and Border Protection has initiated its “1:1 Facial Recognition Air Entry Pilot” program.
- Australia’s border security agency is planning to install facial recognition terminals in airports by 2019.
- The Royal Thai Police announced they will install facial recognition scanners at all border checkpoints to speed up the immigration screening process.
- Singapore airport is also planning to install facial recognition technology in new airport terminals.
- Japan’s anti-terrorism immigration control plan has called for facial recognition technology.
Facial recognition can add a new dimension to border control security by making it easier to quickly and accurately identify travelers. Facial recognition has all the attributes of an end to end identity management system with the added advantage of convenience and speed. We will continue to see the expanded use of this biometric identification management technology, making our lives easier after a long flight with a quick immigration checkout.