#Border Control

Automation: reacting to rising passenger volumes

Global Trends
5 Mins.

A recent study showed that four out of five major airports were planning to increase spending on digitalization. How can automation solutions improve passenger convenience – and verification accuracy – while also boosting security?

2019 was the biggest year for tourism since records began, with 1.5 billion destination arrivals recorded globally.1 That exponential growth curve may have been badly dented over 2020–2021, but the World Tourism Organization is now cautiously anticipating a rebound in 2022.2

The way we travel has certainly changed dramatically over the past decade. We now increasingly expect to experience less hassle at either end of an air journey, and for our trips to be optimized and personalized to our needs – from selecting a seat online to adding extra luggage.

The digital transformation of air services and contactless checks at airports – helped by improved facial recognition and other biometric technologies – have played a big part in making those journeys more comfortable and convenient. They’ve also enhanced the accuracy of identity and document verification at each stage. Moreover, speedy, standardized, digitalized approaches to verification are enabling airports to manage the flow of passengers more smoothly.

Reducing the friction of the airport experience

With global air traffic expected to double by 20373, there will be growing pressure for the efficient processing of passengers as they move through airports. This can only be achieved through the use of technologies and verification techniques that help deal with wave upon wave of passengers within the shortest time frame possible, without any compromise on security.

Airport management teams have always planned their activities according to existing capacities – the scale of their infrastructure, the number of flights expected to land and take off, the volume of passengers due to pass through their facilities, and so on. From this they derive, among other things, how much border security is needed to efficiently manage arrivals and departures at different times.

Even today, there are no standards for this type of planning management. But for integrated identity solutions experts at Veridos, such metrics are essential when successfully implementing a customized airport solution. There’s a good rule of thumb that has proven itself reliable in recent years: every inspection point should expect to process 10,000 passengers each year. The underlying data for this evaluation is calculated according to peak times, i.e. the months and times of day when the most people are at the airport and the border management is most active.

In border management at airports a distinction is made between first- and second-line inspection. The first-line inspection is the kiosk, counter, or gate where travelers’ ID documents are initially verified. Today at many airports, this can be done in person or by a so-called eGate. Should any irregularities appear during this check, there’s a second line available for a manual inspection, thus ensuring maximum security.

An important key figure for these inspections is the turnaround time per passenger. The more that the first-line inspection is digitally enabled, the smoother the ongoing passenger management is and the fewer queues they are likely to encounter. With eGates, the time taken per passenger is typically 10–20 seconds, compared with around 60 seconds for manual inspections.

Digitalized border control at Luxembourg Airport

Man stands in front of flight information display system and browses on his smartphone

That is amply demonstrated at Luxembourg Airport, where automated border control has been introduced and enhanced to ensure the airport can adapt to rising passenger volumes.

The introduction of eGates means that passengers can pass through Luxembourg’s borders in less than 14 seconds. The EES-compliant registration systems at Luxembourg Airport are also designed to make entry and exit more transparent and more secure, helping to enhance passenger flow management by automating processes that were traditionally carried out manually. As well as improving the passenger journey and efficiency, digital technologies can also help deliver a lower carbon footprint for the airport, demonstrating an optimal use of infrastructure.

Th EU’s research and innovation project D4FLY is also focused on optimizing infrastructure. With the aim of smoothing identity verification at border crossings while ensuring high verification accuracy, the program has analyzed how biometric identification can improve the passenger experience and simultaneously boost security. “Within D4FLY, Veridos is leading the research into the use of iris recognition on the move,” highlights Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos. “The iris has proven to be a great biometric feature because it does not change throughout a person’s lifetime. It is unique, and it allows touchless verification even while the person is moving.” The results are optimized verification and resource utilization, coupled with the maximum use of infrastructure solutions.

Elsewhere, in Morocco, Veridos’s Automated Border Control eGates have also been implemented to enhance passenger experience, streamline passenger movement, and maintain high levels of security.

Reducing health risks in airport environments

Spending on the automation of passenger processing has seen a significant rise as it ensures the safer and healthier movement of passengers through a facility – a challenge airports have certainly faced in the recent years.

Contact-reduced travel is consistently gaining acceptance, and for passengers the less they encounter touchpoints, checks, crowds, and queues, the more relaxed their journey will be.

The desire for more hygienic, socially distanced travel and the need to present vaccination certificates – that often have to be checked manually – are also drivers of further automation.4

For vaccination certificates, the VeriGO TrueSeal solution helps to automate the verification of sensitive documents in a convenient and trusted manner, making the use of resources more efficient.

Also minimizing contact are solutions such as Veridos SmartTravel. A one-stop solution that allows applicants to apply for a visa from the comfort of their own homes, it eliminates the need for travel to and from embassies for in-person authentication for visa applications.

Standardization and automation solutions will help future-proof airports, making life more convenient for an ever-rising number of passengers. At the same time, solutions that include biometrics will help ensure maximum security – and efficiency – by enabling convenient and reliable verification.

  1. International Tourism Growth Continues to Outpace the Global Economy, UNWTO, 2020

  2. Tourism Enjoys Strong Start to 2020 While Facing New Uncertainties, UNWTO, 2022

  3. ACI World study predicts global air traffic to double by 2037, Airport Technology, 2019

  4. COVID-19 crisis shifts the focus of IT spend to automation, sustainability, and digital health, SITA, 2022

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