Let's see how iris recognition at El Dorado International Airport in Bogata - a first in Latin America - is changing Colombian traveller's experience for good.
Anyone who's ever travelled outside of his or her country knows the drill: after a long and stressful day of travel, you arrive home only to endure another long wait in the airport immigration queue.
Such is the case for Colombian citizens age 12 and over, who comprise up to 70% of airport arrivals at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.
For the majority of travellers passing through the airport, the first stop after landing is reentry processing resulting in congestion, bottlenecks, and frustration.
This is a considerable challenge for travel-weary citizens as well as airport and immigration personnel, whose constant battle is to maintain safety and equanimity while processing each citizen as quickly as possible.
Gemalto and Colombian technology partner INCOMELEC SAS worked together in 2018, alongside Migración Colombia to transform airport immigration and border crossing for Migración Colombia by leveraging biometric iris verification technology.
They developed a new Automated Border Control (ABC) solution that speeds identity authentication and significantly reduces immigration bottlenecks at El Dorado while maintaining robust security control for each traveller.
The solution is known locally as “BIOMIG”.
It verifies personal identity through iris recognition technology, which is renowned for accuracy, ease of use, and scalability.
Why iris verification?
Iris patterns are complex, unique, and stable and can be identified from a distance to verify an individual’s identity accurately.
How does iris technology work?
The Gemalto ABC Iris solution for Migración Colombia integrates a highly intuitive iris recognition terminal by CMITech that allows swift long range iris capture from 35 to 45 centimetres away. This eliminates physical contact with the scanning terminal and improves comfort, speed, and ease of use for users.
To participate in the program, Colombian citizens age 12 and older can enrol in any of the 30 BIOMIG migratory control stations before they exit the country.
In less than one minute, they securely register their unique iris scan with Colombia’s Border Management System (BMS).
Each traveller’s data is instantly verified, and their identity is compared against databases from Interpol, police records, and other government authorities.
This ensures that each individual is clear of any issues with official agencies and is free to cross international borders.
This is an essential step in complying with the security requirements of the migration authority.
This verification can be done:
before-hand using API (Advance Passenger Information)
When these travellers return to Colombia, they enter their national ID number on a touchscreen connected to an automated door barrier by Incomelec, SAS.
After a glance at the iris camera in the reader terminal, the person’s identity is authenticated via a secure digital process and once again compared against a variety of official government and police databases.
In just seconds, the individual’s status is assessed and approved for re-entry, allowing the automatic doors to swing open. The BIOMIG system allows speedy entrance into the country while maintaining the strictest security during the immigration process.
The challenge with border control solutions is to minimize and simplify immigration procedures while improving ease, speed, and convenience for end-users - without compromising security. This is exactly what the ABC Iris solution achieves," said Francesc Ortodo, Sales Director for Government Programs Latin America at Gemalto. "Colombian citizens can now benefit from strong biometric security within a trusted environment.
First iris recognition in Latin American airports
The program began as a two-week pilot program, and it was comprised of 30 BIOMIG enrollment stations, ten automatic doors and iris scanners, a monitoring station, and a secure server plus training and professional services.
Gemalto provided systems integration and the solution itself, including hardware integration and biometrics. The successful pilot program marked the first time iris recognition technology was used in Latin America for border control.
Visibly shorter queues
The Automated Border Control solution was greatly successful in mitigating re-entry challenges for citizens while complying with Colombia’s stringent border control security requirements.
For travellers, this means fewer lines, faster re-entry, and increased satisfaction.
During the two week trial, Colombian citizens returning home and using the BIOMIG system saved up to 30 minutes in the re-entry process.
Besides, immigration personnel reported a significant drop in crowds and bottlenecks, along with improved traveller and worker satisfaction.
Based on the pilot program’s success and positive reviews and results, Migración Colombia plans to expand the implementation at other airports and immigration centres throughout the nation.