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Australian Border Force to use portable biometric scanners

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers are set to receive a fleet of new portable and handheld biometric devices capable of both collecting and verifying fingerprints and facial images. The Department of Home Affairs approached technology vendors for a “portable and handheld biometric collection capability” to replace its assortment of existing solutions. Existing handheld solutions are used by roaming ABF officers in airports, while other portable and desk-mounted devices are located at seaports and overseas refugee camps.

Home Affairs said that there are a number of existing solutions used within the department and the Australian Border Force for the collection of biometrics and enrolment and verification. Generally, each capability is constrained in its functionality e.g., it is limited to either enrolment or verification.

Apple iPhones with portable fingerprint scanners is one such solution used by frontline officers to check the identities of overseas travellers of interest at airports. The devices, which have been used since 2017, verify fingerprints against immigration and law enforcement records in near real-time.

Laptops and scanners mounted on mobile trolleys are another portable solution used by officers to enrol both fingerprints and facial images in both an online or offline mode. However, as these solutions reach end-of-life, the department is now looking for a “flexible” single device that officers can use to enrol and verify biometrics with an in-house Windows-based application.

A new Windows-based web-application for biometric enrolments is being developed which presents an opportunity to combine the existing mobile capabilities into one new hardware platform. This will provide both enrolment and verification within one device.

According to a request for information, Home Affairs is after up to 200 devices with an in-built camera that can be used in both an online and offline environment, as its existing solutions. The devices will also need to integrate with its existing identity and biometric systems, as well as have the ability to “incorporate a passport reader”.

“A new capability also aims to reduce the number of systems that ABF and the department’s officers need to use for biometric enrolment and verification,” Home Affairs said. The department plans to begin testing possible devices from June 2021.

Border biometrics strategies planned through EU consultation

According to another article, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has held a meeting with a global consultancy firm to discuss how emerging biometric technologies can facilitate smooth processes at the EU’s external borders.

The meeting saw the discussion and commission of a research study that will be led by the firm and its three subcontracted partners. The project was initially commissioned in December 2020 as part of an open procurement procedure for the provision of a Technology Foresight Research Study on Biometrics for the Future of Travel.

Started in late-January 2021, the project is expected to last up to eight months. During the online meeting, the research team discussed project plans, activities, and expected outcomes, including the development of a tailored foresight methodology and supporting tools, together with a biometrics taxonomy, and experts’ consultation activities.

Following the end of the project, the ensuing technologies will be deployed by Frontex operators, as well as additional partners interested in the application of new biometric tools.

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