Biometrics + Identity

Border Management and Travel Security

The use of biometrics at borders started in earnest in the wake of 9/11. The immense value of biometrics to border control systems quickly became evident, leading to a dramatic expansion of deployments around the world. Today, biometrics are at the core of most border management systems. To meet the demand for strong identity confirmation at international borders, many countries now include biometric indicators in documents such as passports, national ID cards, and drivers’ licenses.

Fingerprints were the first biometric modality used to confirm the identities of travelers, and they remain the most widely deployed modality in border control systems. The use of irises and faces for identification soon followed. Border control agencies are also starting to experiment with other biometrics at the border, with several pilot projects currently underway. Multimodal systems, which offer a multi-layered approach to border security, are also a growing trend in biometric deployments at international borders.

Automated border security systems, which are making international travel more secure and more convenient for millions of passengers, depend to a great extent on biometrics. Realizing that border control personnel are a cost driver, many countries have started to use electronic gates, kiosks, and other technologies which allow travelers to complete most (if not all) of the border control procedure on their own. These advances would not be possible without biometrics, which give border control agencies the assurance that travelers are who they say they are.

In parallel with the biometric systems now deployed at borders around the world, the travel industry is also beginning to use biometrics in its systems as well. Airlines and other transportation providers are rapidly discovering that biometrics can replace a boarding pass, a frequent flier card, and even the need for cash onboard a flight.

Most common biometric modalities used for border management and travel security:
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