Travizory revolutionizing border security management through biometrics
The coronavirus pandemic hit the world like a bombshell, drastically changing many processes and driving technology adoption and expanded use cases for biometrics, including border security management.
Travizory was set up by experts in that domain to make travel simpler, safer and more secure for travelers but also for the countries that welcome them. In an interview with Biometric Update, the company’s co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Ygor Lutz says the company has been working to revolutionize border security not only in the island African nation of Seychelles, but also elsewhere around the world.
Although the company’s market traction began well before the pandemic, its biometric technology has never been more relevant.
Lutz talks about Travizory’s biometric border security projects in Seychelles, what it takes to ensure successful border reopening from the pandemic, his appraisal of biometric border security technology adoption in Africa, and the company’s other projects and future prospects.
“While we were set up before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our solution has never been more relevant than today,” Lutz claims. “The travel experience is being redefined on an almost daily basis as countries navigate their way out of the pandemic.”
He says Travizory has developed a one-of-a kind solution that helps countries react to and anticipate threats in real time — whether ‘traditional’ threats like illegal migration, drug trafficking and terrorism, or a global pandemic. The Visitor Management Platform (VMP) provides border security technologies in a modular architecture, he says, “allowing countries to deploy our state-of-the-art facial Travel Authorization (fTA), facial e-VISA (fEVISA), and Biometric API/PNR (bAPI/PNR) as needed.”
He says while the company leverages state-of-the-art technology to provide a unique travel and security experience, it also aims to continue revolutionizing the world of border security by digitizing borders, and making travel simple, safe and secure.
Seychelles biometric border control system
This year in Seychelles, Travizory delivered one of its landmark projects.
According to Lutz, Travizory was chosen by the Seychelles government to implement a project which is intended to enable the reopening of the country’s borders and support the tourism-dependent economy that was already significantly hit by the health crisis.
“Travizory was identified, out of a line-up of new and legacy companies, as the key security and technology partner for the reopening. In just four weeks, we launched the Seychelles Islands Travel Authorization, using facial biometrics to verify travelers against their identity documents and cross-check with international watchlists,” says Lutz.
He adds: “With the pandemic front and centre, we had been able to quickly reconfigure our electronic Travel Authorization system to incorporate Seychelles’ Public Health requirements — a testament to the agility and adaptability of our cloud-based product. There’s no doubt that faced with an ever-evolving threat like COVID-19, such malleability is now a necessity for any security platform to be capable of mitigating the threat.”
On how the system works, Lutz explains: “In a simple five step process, travelers now apply for their Seychelles Travel Authorization pre-travel. All travelers are required to upload their passport and a selfie, health documentation and itinerary — enabling border security and law enforcement officials to risk-assess and vet travelers before they depart their original destination. On arrival, all passengers would be processed according to their categorization pre-travel, using a simple, color-coded app.”
Using facial biometrics, AI and machine learning technologies as well as data from both passengers and airlines to screen passengers and essential documents, the Seychelles was already pulling ahead of many bigger countries on the continent in its use of innovative technologies at the border, Lutz states.
Travizory also recently installed the next-generation in contactless passenger screening in the Seychelles with a biometric corridor, which identifies the individual traveler using advanced facial recognition technology, checks their temperature and determines their classification for handling. It can also determine if the traveler has submitted required health documentation, and has been authorized for travel by Seychelles authorities.
Collaboration needed for safe travel resumption
According to the Travizory co-founder, partnerships are critical for governments that want to safely reopen travels.
“Crucially, safe travel requires collaboration and cooperation from many stakeholders: the transport operators, airport staff, immigration, customs, law enforcement and others — often upwards of 10 separate entities have input and oversight of different aspects of national security. More than that, new security and health risks have made contactless, paperless and tamper-proof documents an essential part of modern travel,” says Lutz.
Explaining how they worked to implement the Seychelles project, Lutz notes: “We worked extremely closely with the Government of Seychelles and other public sector entities, including the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) and Public Health Authority (PHA). By working together from the get-go, we were really able to understand the specific needs of each stakeholder and adapt our system to meet them. It also eliminated delays in implementation as we were able to perfect our offering from the start, ensuring a smooth and quick roll-out of the system.”
The delivery of the project by Travizory was met with approbation from key stakeholders, says Lutz, who adds that “our system can be updated in real-time, meaning that new variants (including the latest Omicron variant) and other disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, can be acted upon immediately.”
Apart from the work with air travel authorities in Seychelles, Travizory says it is also working on a project with the Ports Authority of the country for safe maritime arrivals.
“Fully integrated with the existing Travel Authorization, this is now the world’s first multi-modal advance passenger information system,” he says, “enabling the Seychelles Government to have complete oversight of their borders, both air and sea. One other aspect of our work is around health certificates and verification of vaccine or PCR test results. Our platform not only enables countries to vet travelers before travel and confirm whether they have the right documentation to enter, but we also help with the verification of crucial documents.”
Lutz continues: “This is vital in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and helping countries to keep their borders open, as it removes the risk of travelers with falsified documents being approved for travel, ensuring that a country’s national health measures are adequately supported. Our platform also allows countries to issue secure, tamper-proof certificates to facilitate safe and easy travel for their citizens.”
He also notes that while there is currently a seeming limited appetite for innovative technologies in Africa due to certain legitimate fears though such as concerns about data protection and privacy, the future however looks bright especially with the continent’s growing market size.
“The Seychelles has become the first country in Africa to introduce a biometrics enabled health screening process, using our biometric corridor, and is one of the first to install biometric capability at its borders. This is a huge step forward for both Seychelles and the rest of the African continent, demonstrating the possibilities when innovative, cutting-edge technologies are leveraged,” Lutz says.
“I believe that the sheer size of the African continent and the wide expanse of land, sea and air borders that many countries must navigate makes it a prime candidate for this innovative technology. With biometric capability, governments can guarantee a centralized, consolidated and comprehensive overview of travelers to, from and within their borders and take swift action whenever needed,” he concludes.