Facial recognition for Australian airports arrivals in doubt with Idemia $30M gate refurbishing deal

Plans to use biometric facial recognition at the arrival gates of Australian airports are now up in the air as the Department of Home Affairs has reached a $30 million deal with Idemia to refurbish its legacy Morpho smartgates, iTnews reports.

The tender document shows the deal will span a five-year period, with Idemia providing support and maintenance until July, 2024.

“The existing smartgate arrival gates will undergo remediation work as necessary to ensure the standard of the traveler experience continues to be world class,” a Home Affairs spokesperson told iTnews. “Maintenance and remediation work will continue until a new series of smartgates is ready for operation to ensure a continuous level of service at the border.”

The gates were slated for replacement by technology from Vision-Box after a $22.5 million deal was signed in 2017, and deployment announcements have continued, most recently at Perth Airport, but the project was paused last month, a year before its expected launch.

The reason, sources told iTnews, is that matching results in trials over the past 18 months have not been good enough. A year ago, however, Home Affairs said a trial at Canberra Airport had shown a 94 percent match rate.

The spokesperson for the Department said it “continues to work collaboratively with Vision-Box who remains a trusted partner.” A review to be completed in September will determine the direction of the country’s Seamless Traveller program, and the government continues to prioritize next generation border technology, according to the spokesperson.

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