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SmartGate to proceed next February
21 June 2006
The Australian automated border processing system – now called Smart Gate Series 1 – is to begin operating in February next year.
An Australian Customs Service spokesperson told SDW that the system will begin operating in one of either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane airports. (A formal announcement is expected within a week.)
The SmartGate Series 1 system is designed to match a live facial image of the traveller against the digitised photo stored on the chip embedded within their ePassport. SmartGate will be introduced for Inwards Border Processing first. It is planned that Outwards Border Processing will also be automated in the future but this work has not yet been scheduled.
The facial recognition system has previously been tested in Sydney and Melbourne using Qantas crew and various Qantas frequent flyers as trial candidates, matching their images against a photo database.
Until SmartGate Series 1 is rolled out in early 2007, the SmartGates used during the SmartGate trial will remain in place and will be used to provide an Interim Solution for automated processing. Two are located at Sydney International Airport and two at Melbourne International Airport. One SmartGate in each location will be upgraded to read the Australian ePassport. The others will continue to be available for use by currently enrolled SmartGate users.
SAGEM Australasia is the systems integrator on the project. Facial recognition technology supplied by Cognitec Systems has been embedded within the system. The project has been allotted A$67.1 million system over the next four years.
Customs chief executive Michael Carmody recently told a Senate estimates hearing that the system will be deployed in the first airport in February 2007, with the other two major airports also receiving the system in 2007. “We will progressively roll it out from there,” Carmody said. The roll out will depend in part on the percentage of ePassport holders passing through a particular airport.
During questioning it emerged that a communications campaign will be needed to ensure people understand how they should interact with the system. Carmody has used the system and said: “I was smiling. I had my glasses on and I still got through. I think the equipment is proving itself to be valuable and effective, and certainly we will be monitoring it as we roll it out. But, if there are issues like that, that becomes part of how you communicate use. It says to people, ‘Make sure you look here and don’t poke a face,’ or something like that. We can work our way through those issues.”
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