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Biometric technology and new smart immigration gates being introduced at Dubai airport

Two new initiatives involving biometric technology and new automated border control gates are being introduced at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 to streamline check-in and immigration checks at departure.

A joint team from Emirates airline, Dubai Customs, Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai Police and Dubai Airports launched in May 2017 is currently reviewing all traveller touch points at Dubai International airport, with the aim of enhancing the overall customer experience. These are the first projects signed off by the team. These two projects will be launched immediately and completion is expected within the next 12 -18 months.

Dubai Airport already has Smart Gates, which uses a system integrated with the Emirates Identity Authority, to enable Emirates ID card holders to scan their passport and walk through. The process was further simplified with the launch of a new application last week, called Smart UAE Wallet. Citizens and residents departing from Dubai International Airport would be able to use their smartphones instead of passport, at the smart gates to pass through electronic gates within 15 seconds, using travel machine readable barcodes generated in the app. The Wallet also contains passport information, residence visa, and emirates ID documents, as well as their dependents, along with boarding pass info for Emirates Airline.

Biometric technology: A facial recognition solution will be integrated with the UAE Wallet enabling travellers to register and store their biometric data through multiple means including by taking a selfie on their mobile phones and using biometric registration kiosks placed at check-in areas and Emirates Lounges. They can then utilise this biometric data to ease their journey through immigration at T3 Departures, and other touch-points throughout DXB airport, including automated access to Emirates’ First and Business Class lounges.

One Gate: New smart immigration gates will be installed at T3 Departures to supplement the existing e-gates, and manned immigration counters. These new smart gates offer an automated border control system that utilises travellers’ biometrics. It will also enable travellers to forgo the additional step of getting their passports and boarding passes manually checked by a security officer before they go through immigration, as these checks will be automatically integrated within the biometric validation as travellers pass through the new smart gates.

Major General Mohammed Ahmed Almarri, Director-General of GDFRA said, “In line with the government’s vision to be a world leader in providing public services, we have been evaluating the use of biometrics to enhance traveller flow through immigration. We are pleased to roll-out these new initiatives at Terminal 3 Departures in collaboration with Emirates and our airport stakeholders. We believe this will make our operations more efficient, free up our valuable manpower to focus on other responsibilities, and ultimately improve traveller experience.”

Adel Al Redha, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer said,“We are fortunate to have a very supportive and progressive airport stakeholder group. Even if it means investing in equipment, training and changing operational processes, all partners are keen to embrace new technologies and thinking, if it benefits the end-users. We are all on the same page when it comes to wanting to deliver the best experience for visitors coming to and through Dubai. We look forward to bringing these projects to fruition and introducing more enhancements in the coming months. The teams are enthusiastic and excited to expedite these initiatives at our hub.”

In June 2017, the Government of Dubai has signed an agreement with a UK-based startup, ObjectTech, to develop digital passports for seamless entry at Dubai Airport, combining biometric verification and Blockchain technology. The partnership between GDFRA and ObjectTech aims to create the world's first ‘gate-less border’.

Featured image: Tony HisgettCC BY 2.0

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