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IMS EMEA Newsletter Issue 5 - May 2011

 

Sharper eyes on the border

 

Vol5-4While national borders have to be secure, they must also present no undue obstacle to legitimate travel and commerce.

Over the past decade ARINC has developed a portfolio of products and services designed to keep customs and immigration lines flowing while easing the task of border agents as they keep watch for illegal economic migrants, international criminals and terrorists.

Until recently the prime sources of early warning for the Border Agencies were Passenger Name Records (PNR) and Advance Passenger Information (API) collected from sources like airline booking sites and machine-readable passports presented at check-in. Now, with its new ARINC Border Management System (ABMS), the company is offering a way to add a whole new array of data to the mix – not just API but also visas, watchlists, no-fly lists and authority to carry (ATC) information, plus data from national police forces and customs authorities, and international law enforcement agencies like Europol and Interpol.

“A further evolution of our existing border management capabilities, ABMS is scaleable to meet the individual budgetary and operational needs of each national agency,” said Ray Batt, Director of Government and Security for ARINC in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “And it offers a new and higher level of functionality, from threat assessment to identity management, investigation and traveller facilitation.”

Using ARINC’s own AviNet global communications network to carry and process the data, ABMS can supply agents at land, sea and airport borders with a timely, digestible flow of the information they need to do their work. “The aim is to free the agents to do what they do best – making complex judgements on the spot,” said Batt. “Low-risk travellers who have been pre-checked or who hold electronic passports can be streamed into a fast-moving primary line based on automatic electronic gates, for example. The agents are then free to take a close look at any higher-risk passengers who might present themselves.”

ABMS is flexible, secure and designed for use at multiple levels by different types of personnel within the agency. “It’s available to the people at the coalface, the people you present your passport to,” Batt explained. “Then the secondary line that’s there to take people aside for further scrutiny, and finally the back office, where they take a longer look at individual cases, run reports and perform strategic analysis.”

Another strength of ABMS is its ability to influence events not just at the border, but well before a potential threat sets foot on an aircraft or ship, and months or even years after a short-stay visa has expired. “The greatly enhanced information flow means that undesirables can be denied boarding at their point of origin,” says Batt. “And if legitimate travellers are admitted on limited visas but then overstay, they can be detected and dealt with.”

He continued: “You need to know who’s coming in, but you also need to count them on the way out. So ABMS includes a mechanism to monitor visas, to check on the individual’s right to work or abode. The growing volumes of economic migration within the European Union and, more critically, into the EU from outside means that stay management is now a key element of any border management regime. ABMS can work with national visa systems so that you can clearly see who’s coming in, who’s leaving, what visas and other travel documents they presented, and then promptly flag potential overstayers.”

ABMS is essentially a core system that links all the other elements of the ARINC e-Borders portfolio, and manages the interfaces to the external airline, customs and immigration and law-enforcement databases. ARINC’s offerings, marshalled under its Integrated Border Information and Control Systems (IBICS) programme of co-operation with specialist partners, include the established AviGate messaging service and a new range of mobile solutions – handheld terminals and airport gates.

“The gathering of API data can be slowed by the tendency of governments to establish varying requirements for message content and format,” said Batt. “So we developed APIX to 'mediate' the data - transform it into the desired format - before delivering it to the agencies via a range of industry-standard messaging formats such as Type B, A and Type X and XML. It relieves the airlines of the need to make expensive changes to their systems, and reduces the risk that the information supplied will be incorrectly formatted.”

ARINC is now launching a range of mobile border management systems – handheld devices that enable border agents to wirelessly access information as they meet travellers when they step off the aircraft, or arrive in the country on coaches, ferries and trains. “This in another way of extending the border function,” said Batt. “The devices can be used to validate ID and check fingerprints and other biometrics.”

Specific applications include general aviation. “These devices will help to extend the border to smaller airports and make it more robust at these locations,” said Batt. “They will support improved processing of passengers in light aircraft, business jets and VIP aircraft by accommodating the last-minute changes typical of this sector.”

ARINC’s mobile border control gates are designed to cater for seasonal variations in passenger traffic through airports. “Working with one of our partners, we can offer automated gates that can be deployed on demand and moved from one airport to another as dictated by seasonal traffic patterns,” Batt explained. “All that’s needed on site is power – the data can be handled wirelessly.”

Ray Batt expects to see these and other products beginning to enter service with the next 12 months. “They are effectively components of ABMS and are being offered as part of an integrated border solution,” he said. “We’re talking to four or five governments about ABMS, and some of them are interested in having the mobile capabilities integrated into the solutions that they plan to acquire.”

 

 

IMS EMEA Newsletters 

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Vol5-1smallBorder Brainpower

Last month Britain’s Border Agency admitted that around 180,000 temporary immigrants who should have returned to their home countries within the previous two years were still living illegally in the UK.

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