Government Biometrics Month: The Importance of the Border

When it comes to the government biometrics market, one growth area that’s impossible to ignore right now is biometric border control. It is simply exploding around the world, partly as a result of many governments’ increased focus on border security, and partly because of advancements in biometric technologies like facial recognition.

Face-Scanning Achieves Liftoff

Knomi mobile biometric authentication framework

In many ways, the US government has been a leader in biometric border security, thanks in large part to the Customs and Border Protection agency’s drive to implement facial recognition at a growing number of the country’s airports. The CBP has now delivered face-scanning biometric eGates to airports from Detroit to Washington, DC, to New York, matching individuals’ live faces to the biometric data contained in their passports and testing them against government watch lists.

This is obviously a matter of national security for the CBP, but the organization has also pointed to the efficiency benefits of this kind of biometric screening for airport and airline partners, and to the benefits in convenience for travelers. Indeed, it has been delving into official partnerships with private organizations in order to see how they can work together to leverage the full benefits of biometric screening; collaborations with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, for example, have enabled biometric boarding for passengers, allowing the latter to get cleared for boarding through a simple face scan.

The CBP is not the only government agency making such biometric border efforts; the Transportation Security Administration has also been making biometric screening a bigger focus through its TSA PreCheck program. Its latest move was to start trialing a facial recognition system at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, allowing passengers who opt-in to undergo biometric identification as they pass through airport security.

An Expanding Program

Government Biometrics Month: The Importance of the Border

Returning to the CBP, its efforts in using biometric technology to secure the border have not been restricted to airports, nor to facial recognition technology. The organization recently deployed mobile fingerprint scanning devices from Integrated Biometrics to border agents across 5,000 workstations at various points of entry; and last autumn it announced that it was expanding its use of facial recognition at land border checkpoints such as San Luis, where it quickly starting delivering results.

This biometric approach is definitely going to ramp up on the CBP’s part. This past August, the agency issued a Request for Quote inviting vendors to help along its efforts to integrate facial recognition technologies “throughout all passenger applications” as part of a larger shift from focusing on travelers’ biographic data to their biometric data. And with the CBP also testing other technological innovations in border security such as aerial drones, it’s not hard to imagine further expansions in how facial recognition and other biometric technologies are applied.

A Global Trend

Government Biometrics Month: The Importance of the Border

The US government is not alone in pursuing biometric border security – far from it. Authorities in numerous other countries are exploring biometric solutions, driven by a range of factors.

In some cases, those factors are regulatory. The German Federal Police, for example, recently deployed mobile fingerprint scanners to border officers in an effort to comply with the European Entry and Exit System; and in Canada, Vancouver’s YVR airport became the first to comply with new federal border screening guidelines earlier this year thanks to its use of BorderXpress biometric kiosks.

Still others have been prompted to implement biometric border systems in response to political and even cultural events. In France, authorities implemented face-scanning eGates at the Eurotunnel, a rail connection with the UK, in response to the uncertain political situation caused by Brexit. Japanese authorities, meanwhile, have been expanding their use of facial recognition at the country’s airports, thanks in part to anticipated jumps in international tourism connected to next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Many other government authorities are simply embracing facial recognition and other biometric technologies as a means of addressing the threat of terrorism and crime at border checkpoints, just like in the US.

This all means that biometric border control is an increasingly significant component of the broader government biometrics market. And with the government sector already comprising such a huge portion of the global biometric market in general, border control is a hugely important part of the biometrics industry as a whole.


Government Biometrics Month is made possible thanks to our sponsors: NEC Corporation of America & Aware, Inc

September 19, 2019 – by Alex Perala