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CBP will continue to engage with industry on biometric exit plans


The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency recently updated the industry on its plans for biometric exit since it issued its initial request for information (RFI), CBP OIT Biometric Exit Acquisition last June, emphasizing that it will “continue to engage with industry regarding biometric exit,” according to a report by Homeland Security Today.

The move comes a couple weeks after CBP detailed its biometric exit plans in the RFI, including the four biometric field tests the agency performed to assess the operational viability of different biometric modalities and traveler processing procedures.

These tests included 1-to-1 face comparison where CBP collected and matched the facial images of incoming travelers against their passport photo to confirm their identity, a biometric exit mobile (BE-Mobile) test that measured the feasibility of collecting departure biometrics using handheld devices to quantify future exit law enforcement requirements, and a pedestrian entry/exit test where the agency assessed the viability of facial and iris image capture in an outdoor land environment.

The agency said that “collaboration with private industry will be essential to help successfully create and deliver the technology solutions to meet current and future biometric exit requirements,”

Neville Pattinson, SVP of Gemalto government programs, provided additional insight about the technologies for CBP’s biometric exit program.

“The US government is looking to biometrically match the departure of non-US citizens via its US EXIT initiative,” said Pattinson. “Facial biometric matching at international departure gates can provide confirmation of non-citizens’ departure by matching their face to the ID document used for entry into the country.

“In parallel, the ability to match a traveler’s face with their government-issued ID document’s photo could give airlines and airports a mechanism to automate boarding at domestic gate departures, without the need to inconveniently check boarding passes. Domestic travelers’ faces would become their ‘boarding passes’. Linking identities and ID documents to biometrics throughout the entire traveler’s experience can keep people moving, while also ensuring that they are being repeatedly verified as those individuals who are supposed to be flying.”

The CBP said it recognizes industry opportunities in various areas including cloud services, facial recognition matching software, equipment for entry lanes (fingerprint readers, cameras and ePassport readers), program management support, innovation experiments involving alternatives to capture biometrics, and solutions for land and sea environments.

The agency’s “update” to its RFI “is part of government to industry outreach, and is for industry planning and awareness only,” and “does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that a procurement action will follow.”

Pattinson said that while CBP is continuing development on future entry/exit processes that will leverage facial recognition technology, signaling the increasing role of biometrics in air travel, “the change isn’t imminent, but airlines and airports can get ahead of the game and reduce human error in verifying identities, ID cards and passports by automating, streamlining and adding a layer of biometric security to check-in and their customers’ travel experiences”.

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