By Katja Sommerfeld, SAFE ID Solutions and member of the Silicon Trust
Over recent years, the implementation of global MRTD infrastructures could be said to have increased the security and facilitation of travelers worldwide. Now, at least 60 ICAO countries are issuing ePassports, with a number of others planning to issue them by the end of 2009.
The evolution of machine-readable travel documents (MRTDs)
The substantial modernization of the 3rd edition ICAO Doc 9303 provides countries with a proven foundation for planning and introducing or upgrading an existing identity document. The ICAO standards comprise of an optional interoperable standard that covers the storage of biometric identification and other associated data, which is held on the contactless RFID chip. This optional standard enables countries to issue an official ID document with enhanced security for biometric identification and authentication at border control posts.
In the future, the focus will be on global interoperability, which aims to harmonize the capabilities of inspection systems and data exchange in different countries throughout the world. This step ensures that the data received from all systems can be processed and utilized in inspection operations in the respective countries. Therefore, system interoperability meets the requirements of passport issuers and immigration authorities to guarantee the accurate identification of a travel document and its holder, while minimizing facilitation problems for the traveler.
eID documents add value
The continued increase of ePassports and standard machine-readable passports (MRPs) demands the early and fast introduction of border control solutions to provide efficient and secure airport and immigration procedures. Using the added value of eID documents requires the implementation of a highly secure border control solution that covers the eID document’s verification and the holder’s authentication. Combined with the Public Key Directory (PKD), the border control authorities effectiveness is enhanced because they receive unaltered and genuine document information that will be checked against the biometric data stored on the chip.
Innovative security solutions that replaceexisting methods must offer heightened protection, allow the fluid movement of people at sensitive sites, whilst minimizing any delays. These solutions become complex due to varying factors such as changing government requirements, which may be effected by terror warnings for example, that immediately increase the intensity of border security. In this case, authorities have to be able to centrally adjust the level of security at border check points (e.g. making additions to their most wanted list), either generally or individually for different locations. All respective connected border control clients then have to directly adopt these changes.
Biometric identification solutions
The biometric identity management solution method has grown in recent years at airports and other border control posts. The solution focuses on the biometric authentication of a traveller from scanned data of the face and fingerprint (fingerprint recognition is the most mature and recognized biometric verification method.) The traveler’s biometric information is checked against the biometric data of the eID document that is stored securely on the chip, whereas the eID document was read on a document reader beforehand. The implementation of a document reader, camera and fingerprint scanner within an automated gate system results in significant benefits by reducing passenger handling time and increasing traveler satisfaction at border controls, due to background checks that verify the document and traveler’s identity.
In principle, the security and reliability of each identity check can be maximized by
increasing the number and accuracy of checks. In real scenarios, the time taken for the verification process to take place is limited due to restricted personnel and technical /environmental capacities. A control station at a highly frequented airport has to prove the identity of a traveler within a few seconds in order to avoid long queue times. The compromise between verification security and process efficiency has to be clearly evaluated – which is a decision made by the responsible authority.
Automated border control solution
The steady flow of passengers and the efficiency of new security measures are the two most important issues that need to have an end-to-end-solution. This can be achieved with an electronic automated border control solution that allows security authorities to focus on unknown travelers who may be considered higher risk, which in turn improves the overall security and reduces passenger waiting times.
Key benefits of secure border management solutions include:
• Enhanced process automation;
• Secure verification of passengers;
• Greater prevention of fraud;
• Higher and quicker passenger throughput.
Secure border management solutions are heightened when the following additions are in place:
• eGate – equipped with multimodal biometric verification capabilities including; face, fingerprint and iris;
• Connection to national and international database systems;
• Intelligent surveillance solutions.
Security sensitive environments, like airports and border control posts, require a surveillance solution that monitors the behavior of people and objects. In most cases, video content is for analysis and the face recognition systems provide high-level real time threat detection. Therefore, the installation of highly flexible and scalable intelligent video management solutions is inevitable. The solution must have the ability to perform video management, video analytics and recording functions on a large network of video surveillance systems.
The operator of such a secure system is then able to define rules for various scenarios, which may include:
• Unattended, missing or moved objects (cases / boxes) – the solution will recognize and track human activities or objects;
• Moving people in a security area / loitering people – the solution will create virtual barriers.
Authorities face a challenge
In the future, the industry may struggle to implement such solutions because of social and political issues, rather than technological constraints. Border control solutions reach their full potential when biometric records are matched across networks of international databases, which unfortunately cause further regulatory hurdles in terms of international data protection laws (data privacy violation) and data storage issues. Because of this, authorities are often threatened by biometric technologies due to the subsequent need to standardize procedures, technology and data between different stakeholders to ensure security in a specific environment yet worldwide interoperability.