ED4BG Debate I Border Guards and Technology

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Nov 18, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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ED4BG
Debate I


Border Guards and Technology


At the debate on Border Guards and Technology, Europe

was described as being like
a hotel manager who forgets to check out guests and has no idea how many people are
staying in the rooms. Doctor Frank Paul, head of the Large
-
Scale IT
-
Systems and
Biometrics Unit of the European Commission used the analogy in
pointing out
the
way forward for the implementation of new technologies in the bordercontrol
processes.

He
signalled

a change in
approach

from the current “country
-
centric” one
to one
that is “person
-
centric”. For example, as the future will undoubtedl
y be one of
increased passenger flows, instead of applying visa
requirements

to all persons of a
certain nationality
, the object should be to facilitate the movement of the 98% of
bona fide

travellers
, no matter what their nationality,

while
focussing on

the identified

high
er
-
risk
travellers
.


The real problem, he said, are overstayers, but with the adoption of the Visa
Information System (VIS), new technology for ID management, , and an
entry/
exit
system, people would have incentives to “check out” on
time
.

I
f found to have
overstayed
,

a traveller would
experience
difficult
ies

in obtaining access during
future

visits
.


He underlined that the future of technology in border control wasn’t in question, “we
don’t have a choice. It’s not a question of wheth
er, but how
,
” technology will be used.

However

he added a caveat



the technology must be simple to operate and the
benefits must be clear to both the traveller and the border guard. “If it’s not simple, if
people don’t see a benefit, it doesn’t work. It’s

not just for the sake of having the
latest fancy gadget.”


He envisioned a scene in which a third
-
country national
would be detected inside the
territory of a Member State

without proper documentation

claiming to have had a
valid visa. Whereas today
he would be subjected to laborious interrogation and hours
later nobody would be any the wiser regarding the veracity of his claims
, in the future

all it would require to resolve the situation would be the placement of a finger onto a
fingerprint reader.


At the start of the debate, moderator Edgar Beugels, head of Frontex’s R&D Unit,
wondered where the panel saw Europe in the future. To begin
,

Ruud Dirkzwager,
from Royal Netherlands Marechausee
,

presented an animated short film depicting the
use of face re
cognition technology in identifying suspicious air travellers.


The panel, which also included Doctor Krassimir Krastev, Deputy Director to the
CTO at Morpho/Safran Group
,

and Isabel Baltazar, Head of the Fraud Unit and
Identification Department of Portuga
l’s Immigration Service, broadly agreed that new
technologies were an inherent part of the future of effective border control, but each
injected his
or her
own particular pros and cons.


Mr. Dirkzwager said technology
,

“can never replace personnel. The ma
chine will
support personnel.” And, as technology can fail, knowledgeable staff need to be fully
informed about
,

“what’s going on behind the machine.” However, he saw the future
with fewer classroom hours but with time in the workplace increasing as
office
rs

learned while gaining practical experience.


Isabel Baltazar a
ffirmed
, “I don’t believe in full automation” and warned against blind
faith in technology, even though, she went on,

technology was fundamental for
modern challenges
.”


Doctor Krastev, rep
resenting industry,
interestingly
claimed tech
nology

producers
were

no
t motivated by money and that much of what the film portrayed as being in
the future was already here.


A bonus of these new technologies, he explained, is that the work of border
-
guardi
ng
will be attractive to younger generations, and as innovations will have
the
input of end

users at earlier and earlier developmental stages than now, future effectiveness of the
border guard

s work is
en
sured.