Thales will provide biometric border screening technology for the Spanish government, thanks to a contract win from the Spanish Ministry of Interior. The French multinational will work in partnership with Zelenza, a Madrid-based telecommunications services provider.
It’s the latest major border control contract awarded in anticipation of the European Union’s incoming EU Entry/Exit System, or “EES”, which will require members of Europe’s Schengen free travel zone to collect the biometric data of non-EU nationals upon entry. Originally, EES was anticipated to be implemented in May of this year, but the timeline for implementation was extended to September of 2022 in a decision made by EU authorities last October.
In accordance with the newly awarded contract, Thales will provide Spanish authorities with more than 1,500 Manual Border Control Inspection units, to be deployed across all of Spain’s border checkpoints. The units will be equipped with document readers, fingerprint scanners, and face capture capabilities, as well as Thales’ EES Border Control Clearance Software.
“Thales’ manual checkpoints are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for identity creation and verification,” commented Thales Identity and Biometric Solutions SVP Youzec Kurp. “At our Madrid Biometrics Competence Centre, we have developed tools for document and people verification that are already in use in other countries in Europe, Asia, America and Africa.”
The development comes after Thales’ compatriot and rival, IDEMIA, won an EES contract from the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service in April, illustrating the two technology giants’ importance in helping to secure the borders of Europe’s Schengen countries. Notably, Reuters reported earlier this year that IDEMIA’s parent company was considering the potential sale of IDEMIA, in whole or in part, and that Thales was regarded as a potential buyer, with further decisions expected to follow later this year.
Thales and Zelenza’s biometric border project for Spain will be funded by the EU’s Internal Security Fund, and is expected to be executed over the coming eight months. While the new border screening system is intended to enhance security, Thales says it will ultimately deliver “a fast and secure identity enrolment and clearance process” for travellers.
June 21, 2022 – by Alex Perala