June 2007

Immigration Gates also go ‘Smart’

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Smart immigration gates provides enhanced border security, ability to process increasing numbers of passengers and deter the use of forged or stolen passports.

“Come my son, come to the machine…”

It seems that in the near future at least similar to these words the future travelers will hear as they approach the immigration gates. Since the introduction of electronic passport scaled globally, airport security should be upgraded to allow electronic passport bearers to clear immigration controls faster and therefore benefit the introduction of this technology.

Malaysia was the first country in the world to issue electronic passports in March 1998. In December 2002, thumbprint data was added to the biometric data on the passport RFID chip. Similar technology is used in the Malaysian national Identity Card called MyKad (Government Multi Purpose Card). Malaysians developed the Autogate system which is designed to facilitate exit and re-entry of Malaysians holding passport or MyKad at Malaysian immigration checkpoints. Passport information stored in MyKad increase the efficiency of immigration clearance through the Autogate system without compromising the national security. The process is quite simple:


Malaysian citizens coming back home approach to the Autogate system and place their passports on the passport reader machine and wait for an estimated time of 7-10 seconds.

The system deploys fingerprint verification technology for authentication of a person’s identity.  To get good fingerprint image, people just need to place the thumb flat on the centre of the scanner. In 2-3 seconds the system will perform 1:1 fingerprint verification.

When the verification process is complete, after enjoying convenience of self-processing, they remove their passports and proceed.

Australians developed similar system called SmartGate. It is a secure and simple system that performs the customs and immigration checks normally made by a Customs Officer when a person arrives in Australia. SmartGate takes a live image of the face and using facial recognition tech-nology compares it with a mathematical representation of his or her facial featu-res stored on the electronic passport. If there is a successful match, the traveler is cleared through the customs control point. Otherwise, the traveler is to be referred to a Customs Officer. Eligible International Civil Aviation Organi-zation (ICAO) compliant electronic passports from other countries will be able to use SmartGate too.

With previous introduction of electronic air-tickets and electronic check-in, electronic passports and now electronic immigration gates, RFID technology makes air transport becomes even faster and simpler.

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