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Singapore’s New Facial and Iris Clearance System for Immigration

Singapore New Facial and Iris Clearance System
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Singaporeans are soon to experience a much quicker process for clearing the immigration at Changi Terminal 4.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced today of a new face and iris scanning system at a designated automated lane in the terminal.

With this new feature, passport and thumb print scans will not be required. This allows for a “contactless” and seamless process for clearing immigration.

This reduces obstacles faced in the traditional method of fingerprint scanning such as verification issues as a result of faded fingerprints due to ageing, dryness or scarring said the authority.

Singaporeans who are six years of age and above and are holding a passport issued after Jan 1, 2018, with IDs beginning with the letter K, are eligible to use this new system.

This is because these citizens have their biometric information already saved onto the national database and hence no prior sign-up is needed.

This new immigration clearance procedure is undergoing a six-month trial, which started on November 25.

It was observed that this contactless process allowed for faster clearance, few seconds quicker than the current process.

At the contactless lane, a traveller will have to walk through two gantries. The first gantry requires the individual to stand on a footprint mat. A scanning machine will show the animated instructions that will capture images of the iris and face.

Upon the opening of that gantry, the next one will feature another machine that will confirm the identity of the individual based on the information produced by the scans before the gantry opens.

Tuas Checkpoint has a similar system but just featuring one machine and two gantries.

There are plans for setting up a second contactless clearance lane using the system at Tuas Checkpoint will be set up at Terminal 4 to assess the feasibility and efficiency of both systems.

Based on the results, ICA will determine which system to further embark on for other checkpoints.

Factors such as ease of use, physical and environmental factors will be considered.

There were some challenges faced with the system at Tuas Checkpoint, such as the unfamiliarity with iris and facial imaging and individuals not removing their headgear or eyewear.

This led to ICA working with the Home Team Science and Technology Agency to create a more effective graphical user interface. Its features include the system detecting if someone is wearing a cap and displaying the instructions for them to remove it.

Other challenges include the system being unable to identify coloured or patterned contact lenses.

The current measures are to direct such travellers to alternative lanes for immigration clearance.

While this system is designed for Singaporeans at the moment, ICA has plans for making it useable with foreigners too. It aims to roll out this contactless clearance system for all eligible travellers from 2022.


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