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Jamaican government agencies discuss using biometrics to improve border security


Jamaican government agencies gathered at the ‘Leveraging Technology for Effective Border Security’ conference, recently held at the National Police College in St Catherine, to discuss the use of biometric technologies to protect the country’s borders, according to a report by Jamaica Observer.

Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) also committed to taking a multi-agency approach to improving the country’s national security.

PICA’s acting CEO, Andrew Wynter, said that providing the agencies tasked with border security with improved technology will help save Jamaica millions of dollars and significantly decrease human error or corruption.

Wynter said that PICA’s most recent technological improvements include Automated Immigration Kiosk, which conduct biometric checks to rapidly and securely process passengers.

“The use of these automated kiosks at our airports and the wider incorporation of facial recognition technology are now being fully integrated into our border control system,” Wynter said. “Having one system with designated codes to each agency…this technology will allow us to track any illegitimate and unlawful activities or persons that can expose our borders to threats.”

According to Wynter, this multi-agency approach will help reduce breaches and increase accountability, and help agencies to more effectively manage risks and threats.

The biometric kiosks enable PICA to update their database and maintain records to send to the police in the event of detecting unusual and suspicious travel patterns.

Wynter said that the threats come in a range of forms, including illegal fishing, unsanctioned movement of persons and goods through ports, immigrants entering without proper documentation, smuggling of guns, drugs, and human trafficking.

Considering the space is much larger than the resources available to secure it, Wynter said that technologies such as a biometric system and a more collaborative approach will ultimately improve the monitoring and detection capabilities of border-security entities.

In February, Jamaica’s Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) unveiled it is introducing a facial recognition feature to the production of passports.

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