A new modular automated gate system for use at land, sea and air borders offers strengthened security while allowing travellers to cross frontiers quickly and efficiently. The new technology, developed by an EU-funded project, also promises to open up new market opportunities for European high-tech SMEs.
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Increasing numbers of travellers want to cross Europe’s external borders with maximum convenience and speed. At the same time, border guards have to deal with a wide range of threats, including terrorism and unauthorised migration. These two conflicting pressures have been cleverly resolved by the EU-funded FASTPASS project, which has developed and trialled a modular automated border control (ABC) gate that benefits both travellers and border guards.
“Instead of developing three different gates, we developed one flexible platform that is adaptable to different scenarios,” says project coordinator Markus Clabian of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. “These innovative border control points have been designed around the needs of both travellers and border guards, and have been demonstrated to be fully functional under different conditions and constraints.”
The ABC gates combine biometrics, passport scanning and video technologies to help speed up cross-border checks and enable border guards to focus on potential risks. At Vienna airport for example, passengers were able to register at an automated kiosk, where a biometric face scan was taken. Once in the system, passengers will be able to skip this part of the process in future and continue on to the e-gate.
Faster, more secure
“Removing time-consuming documentation checks will help to reduce waiting times,” says Clabian. “It will also be impossible to trick the process because FASTPASS has taken into account all security aspects in the design and development process. These include the most recent attacks on identity documents and biometrics,” says Clabian.
The technology was tested at Piraeus port in Greece, where an identical procedure was successfully trialled. Here, the e-gates were modified to be portable. Another took place on the land border between Romania and Serbia, where vehicle documents were automatically checked without passengers having to get out of their cars.
“All these different solutions are based on a common harmonised architecture,” explains Clabian. Once fully installed, the FASTPASS system will be able to process up to 500 people per hour and help the authorities cope with the increasing challenges involved in managing border control points. The project also established methods for security and privacy assessment using a common procedure, which will help to assess security arrangements between EU countries and different installations.
Boost for security technology
Completed in March 2017, FASTPASS recently produced an exploitation plan to help industry to make use of the results and to prepare for their eventual commercialisation.
“Some 64 main results have been listed, with details on how they can be exploited,” says Clabian. “It is vital that the results of FASTPASS do not disappear into an archive, but rather make a difference technically, practically, and economically.”
For several partners, the connections that have been established during the project will allow for closer cooperation in the future through commercial tenders and further research initiatives. For some technology providers, it would be natural to cooperate with gate providers in order to foster work on fingerprint technology and face recognition.
“The technologies and components developed in FASTPASS are a kind of a solution pool that can be utilised when offering systems for customers,” explains Clabian. “These components are not fixed but can vary according to particular customer needs and wishes.”
Possible technologies in this pool include process control modules, software integration, video surveillance, passport readers and biometric devices. Another sustainable result of the project has been the range of stakeholders involved in the security gate’s development from researchers and module providers to infrastructure operators and border guard organisations.
“This has meant that we have all benefitted on a range of levels, from simply learning from each other to developing new technologies and processes that we have never seen before,” says Clabian.