New technologies for border control in EU

Issue 5 2022 Access Control & Identity Management, News, Transport (Industry)

The D4FLY project, funded by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 research framework programme, involved 19 partners consisting of border control authorities, universities, research institutes and industrial companies from 11 countries. They investigated, built and tested solutions that can speed up border controls and enable smooth border crossings, while maintaining the required security. Veridos coordinated the project and also led the development of the prototypes.

Innovative solutions have been created successfully by the consortium in various areas, such as:

One focus of the project was to develop tools that automatically detect anomalies in documents by verifying security elements and thus shortening inspection times. For instance, a tool was designed that analyses travel patterns based on the stamps in a passport, by combining AI-based image recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) technology. The system detects stamps in passports, reads the contents, such as entry and exit dates, and deduces the passport holder’s travel pattern. As a result, officials no longer need to manually sift through and evaluate the stamps in passports to understand in which countries a person has stayed in, for how long and in what order.

The system has already been successfully used in a second line process during the project runtime by document experts of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. Overall, the officers using the system found it to be ten times faster than the previous method. Thanks to feedback from end user focus groups, video support, which was not originally planned, was added to the solution in the course of the project. This new functionality allows officials to hold the passports under a camera and flip the pages while the AI-based system automatically recognises the stamps.

Smartphone-based identity verification 

Solutions that allow border guards to perform border checks in confined spaces with difficult lighting conditions, such as in coaches, can make a big difference at borders. An easy-to-use smartphone application to verify passengers, without them having to leave the bus, speeds up processing significantly. In D4FLY, Veridos has developed a solution for this scenario: travellers can register in advance at special self-service kiosks where their passports are read and a photo is taken. The system transmits the data to the smartphones of authorised border guards.

When a bus reaches the border, officers just walk through the bus and use the dedicated smartphone app to verify the identity of the passengers by matching the live image with the stored photos. Additional information that the officer might want to check, such as the enrolled passport data, is also displayed in the application.

Biometric corridors for identity verification

For border controls at airports or cruise terminals, where many passengers arrive at the same time, D4FLY developed a prototype of a biometric identity verification corridor allowing identity checks ‘on-the-move’. The solution combines biometric technologies such as 3D facial image recognition, iris verification and somatotype analysis based on full-body images while travellers are walking through the corridor.

The information captured in the corridor are compared with the stored data of travellers. If they match, travellers don’t even have to stop, and long queues, as well as waiting times can be reduced significantly. Travellers who could use this process would need to voluntarily enrol themselves using the D4FLY self-service kiosk, for which a prototype was also designed in the project.

All solutions developed in the project are fully compliant with European Union data protection regulations. They are also equipped with comprehensive security measures to prevent misuse and manipulation. These include technologies for detecting attempts to manipulate or trick the biometric verification technologies.

“All of D4FLY’s research and development projects were carried out and successfully completed within the planned timeframe despite the challenging circumstances of the pandemic,” sums up Armin Reuter from the Veridos Innovations Team and D4FLY project coordinator. “Particularly gratifying was the excellent cooperation between the international partners and the end users in the border authorities."

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