ADVOCACY: Smart borders for a globalised world
G20 Summit

ADVOCACY: Smart borders for a globalised world

The era of smart borders has arrived, with intelligent tools helping to smooth the travel experience, prevent cross-border crime and secure international borders 

After recovering from a pandemic, countries are rapidly embarking on the digitilisation of national IDs while implementing a frictionless experience for travellers. Countries around the world are swiftly integrating technology, especially artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies, to ensure the safety and security of nations. Many issues challenging the ability of border agencies to secure the movement of people and goods across borders make emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, biometrics, data analytics and machine learning critical solutions for governments. The establishment of smart borders, which incorporates AI and other technologies, gives the assurance to authorities that technology solutions are able to protect their nations and tourists. 

Globalisation makes smart borders a pivotal solution for transnational border crossing as many sovereign states become vulnerable to the rising threats of terrorism and crimes such as human trafficking and money laundering. These vulnerabilities impact heavily on the movement of goods and people, and the gaps in the information flow mainly between authorities can be easily addressed using current technology advancements.

Many governments will transform their borders with smart border solutions with advanced analytics tools and innovative civil aviation technology solutions such as those provided by Securiport. Heralding a potential game-changing moment for the ability of governments to patrol their borders, smart border controls will be the next advancement for the movement of people and goods.

One of the advancements that has increased efficiency and productivity is the rise of AI, which promises to streamline operations in many sectors by compiling massive amounts of data to better evaluate risks, improve predictions and perform operations much faster than would be possible by humans. The same is true for border management, as AI helps to secure international borders more effectively and safely. 

In the coming years, emerging technologies will fundamentally change border management to create greater opportunities for industry transformation towards smart borders. 

Borders, AI and data analytics

Many of the systems have become increasingly automated to enable computers to make preliminary determinations about possible threats and how authorities should respond. 

Smart borders is in essence dependent on AI and data. By providing fast, shielded and dependable security checks, authorities can utilise video analytics with facial recognition and iris scans to assess the risk level of travellers. Furthermore, the usage of cameras can be pivotal to analyse human behaviour and facial features.

Border-focused AI technologies use algorithms designed to evaluate travellers’ biometrics, which can be nuanced, with almost imperceptible emotional expressions, facial recognition and fingerprints. Such biometrics enable governments to analyse the data and ensure the identity of a traveller is verified. Technology advancements in the aviation industry give the traveller a frictionless experience while making the processing time of each passenger quicker and more thorough. 

Data-driven biometric technologies help build the traveller’s profile and prepare authorities to manage any anomalies assessed prior to the traveller’s departure or arrival. Biometrics technology captures vital data to be analysed in order to know who is the traveller. These technologies have advanced and are designed for new functions, including recent efforts to algorithmically identify asymptomatic travellers infected with the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. AI promises to supercharge these tools, making each one more powerful and capable of processing and interpreting increasing amounts of data. This rapid deployment of data-driven technologies customised for civil aviation and immigration security demands that governments implement privacy protocols and framework to regulate their usage. 

In current practice, AI systems tend to be used as complementary tools for border officials, allowing fewer individuals to monitor more territory and processing travellers in less time and for less money than might be otherwise possible. Such security procedures have defined modern international travel and are essentially smart border solutions.

Smart borders data: who’s in control?

As data-driven technologies are deployed across sectors and industries, data privacy and ownership are pivotal for travellers and government. Data ownership refers to both the possession of and responsibility for information extended to governments. Hence, governments around the world must ensure the data governance frameworks are established to understand, manage and monitor collected data. Data governance provides a set of rules for governing access, usage and maintenance of information assets so that the government can effectively and appropriately protect all data collected. When Securiport works with government clients, we establish access parameters and ensure controls are the sole responsibility of the government. Upholding five pillars of data governance, Securiport advises governments to safeguard with caution data collected and analysed. 

  • Data Stewardship – The government is responsible for the data collected on borders and must maintain complete control of the data.
  • Data Quality – Structure based on the requirements of government authorities determining how the data points are captured and stored for future use to ease the process for travellers.
  • Privacy and Security – Highlight the importance of having mechanisms in place to protect travellers’ data.
  • Information Transparency – Emphasis on the needs for immigration officers and custom border agents to have access to the right information in a timely manner and in real time.
  • Data Availability – Ensure that government authorities identify the appropriate and secure locations where data will be stored.

The practice of protecting digital information throughout its entire lifecycle encompasses every aspect of information security, from the physical security of hardware and storage devices to administrative and access controls, as well as the organisational policies and procedures.

The importance of smart borders

Securing a national border requires a delicate balance of controls and efficiency. A sovereign country has the right and duty to protect its borders by blocking terrorists, illegal contraband and human traffickers. Therefore, smart borders presents an opportunity for authorities to comprehensively process each traveller. When dealing with transnational travellers, each traveller must be verified by ensuring passports, biometrics and other documents are real and authenticated. Moreover, the capabilities of smart borders will enable authorities to process travellers efficiently and rapidly. These duties must be undertaken with extreme care and attention. Smart borders demand that governments also have the right data governance in place to protect the collected and analysed data.

The importance of AI in smart borders is its capacity to provide smart analysis and predictions in addition to having a wide range of applications for checkpoints. Therefore the key aspects of smart borders are:

Contactless and automated kiosks are unstaffed and used for iris and facial recognition, as well as for passport validation. These kiosks are also able to capture fingerprints in a touchless manner to verify a traveller’s complete biometrics data. The use of contactless kiosks accelerates the process for travellers to pass through immigration agents rapidly and seamlessly.

Integrated IoT involves one or more networks of physical sensors and cameras to collect and share critical information about a checkpoint in real time. Data collected from devices will be supplied into either the so-called “digital twin” — a digital representation of a physical asset – or a centralised data management platform for analysis and monitoring.

The era of smart borders has arrived and health epidemics such as Covid-19 have created a rapid adoption of technologies including AI, IoT and frictionless equipment for border checkpoints. Smart borders rely heavily on AI technologies that can be implemented throughout the traveller’s journey, including at border zones. These AI tools and systems developed for border control impact travellers and migrants differently, though they serve the same purpose in terms of speeding travel, halting smuggling and identifying environmental disasters.