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U.S. authorities launching facial recognition pilot at Canadian border to ease truck congestion


Peace Bridge Authorities and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are launching a joint pilot program in Fort Erie, Ontario to screen commercial vehicles crossing the border with facial recognition, in a bid to reduce congestion at the busy crossing, The Buffalo News reports.

Trucks are the primary cause of traffic delays on the bridge, according to the Buffalo News, and officials hope that the program, which could lead to full deployment for trucker identification by mid-2019, will reduce congestion on the bridge by half.

Truckers will be enrolled in the new Pre-Arrival Readiness Evaluation program, CBP Supervisory Officer Aaron Bowker says.

“This provides a unique opportunity to evaluate biometric identification capabilities in a commercial environment,” Bowker says, “allowing primary officers to handle fewer documents and further reduce traffic congestion.”

Some 85 to 90 percent of commercial drivers arrive in pre-inspection areas already registered in CBP’s Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program, which takes photographs and fingerprints. The border screening process also includes license plate recognition, x-ray inspection and radiation portals.

The new AI system can confirm within a fraction of a second whether a truck driver has filed the necessary electronic manifest and paid the required fees, Peace Bridge Authority General Manager Ron Rienas says. He also notes that the Canadian Border Service is testing similar technology at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. The systems are expected to be more widely rolled out if they are able to overcome challenges such as collecting images through truck windshields.

CBP proposed revisions to its biometric entry and exit system to include vehicles at land crossings earlier this year, and more recently has planned a facial recognition deployment to screen pedestrian travelers along its southern border.

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