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Five million faces through SmartGate

Five million faces through SmartGate

Earlier this year, SmartGate, Customs’ automated passenger processing system, reached a new milestone of over five million users.

Deputy Comptroller Robert Lake says SmartGate, which was introduced at airports in December 2009, has become increasingly popular, with over 65 percent of those eligible now using SmartGate to go through passport control faster.

“This technology improves border security by allowing Customs to focus on more high-risk travellers and it has allowed more accurate and faster passenger processing,” says Mr Lake.  

SmartGate uses advanced facial recognition software to compare a person’s face with the digital photo in their ePassport chip through biometric identification, which uses algorithms to identify people.

“Precise and complex measurements of unique facial features provide one of the most accurate and secure means of identification,” says Mr Lake. “Your face is like a fingerprint.”

In October 2012, Customs audited SmartGate to assess the effectiveness of the facial recognition technology. A manual review of three months of arrival and departure data confirmed that SmartGate’s performance is well within the established levels of risk, and identified only three false acceptances out of 698,000 passengers processed during that time. 

“In all three instances the passengers were detected and stopped by Customs officers before leaving the secure area, and none were a deliberate attempt to get through. None of the passengers involved were a risk to the border,” says Mr Lake.

The next generation SmartGate Plus
Customs is now in the process of testing the next generation in automated passenger processing, Smartgate Plus.

“We are always looking at ways to improve the SmartGate experience and the new system will make the process quicker an easier for travellers”, says Deputy Comptroller Robert Lake.

The new SmartGate prototype is a one-step system which eliminates the ticket and kiosk; making the process faster and more user friendly.

“This is a world first and we are pleased to be involved with this innovation.”