The rollout of automated border processing technology, or SmartGates, to all of Australia’s international airports has been completed following the deployment of the technology at Darwin International Airport.
Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, said the technology had proven itself as capable of efficiently and effectively facilitating passenger processing.
Initial trials of SmartGate technology — to assess whether face recognition is suitable for border processing in a working airport environment — were carried out in Sydney and Melbourne from November 2002 to June 2005. Brisbane International Airport lead the commercial rollout of the technology.
“Since SmartGate was first implemented at Brisbane International Airport in 2007, the system has gone from strength to strength,” Mr O’Connor said in a statement. “To date, more than 3.5 million travellers have used SmartGate around the country. So far this year more than 986,000 people have used SmartGate in Australia.”
O’Connor said the launch of SmartGate in Darwin will help Customs and Border Protection to respond to increasing numbers of international travellers without compromising border protection.
The SmartGates rely on a combination of electronic information stored e-Passports and face recognition technology to perform customs and immigration checks.
The Darwin announcement follows the January expansion of Sydney International Airport’s use of facial recognition technology through new kiosks and a SmartGate.
The expansion — four new kiosks and one gate — brought Sydney Airport’s total up to sixteen kiosks and eight gates for use by Australian e-passport holders aged 18 and over and New Zealand e-passport holders.
The automated border processing technology was also implemented at Gold Coast International Airport in April 2010.
According to the 2009-10 Customs Annual Report the total percentage travellers who presented at a SmartGate kiosk has grown from 8.21 per cent as at July 2009 to 11.86 per cent as at June 2010. The total number of passengers has grown from 102,002 to 133,056 over the same period.
Total SmartGate usage for the 2009-10 period was some 1.42 million travellers. Sydney had the highest number of travellers recording 529,850 for the full year.
“SmartGate was operational for the full year in all major Australian international airports (except the Gold Coast, which opened in April 2010),“ ,” the report reads.
“SmartGate uptake has increased from 35 per cent of eligible travellers at the beginning of 2009–10 to around 50 per cent at the end of the year. This increase is supported by positive feedback and indicates that travellers are finding SmartGate easy to use and a convenient and simple way to self-process through passport control.”