Following recent assessments of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-Engineering (AEER) program, provisions are being used to enhance Customs and Border Protection (CBP) entry/exit operations at airports.
Portions of the Apex AEER program have been implemented into the Homeland Security Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) Port of Entry People Screening Program (POE-PS). The program enables CBP screen and identifies the growing number of international travelers more efficiently using biometric technology.
“Unlike some other countries, U.S. airports were designed only for inspection of international arriving travelers not for biometric checks for outbound foreign nations,” Arun Vemury, program manager of POE-PS, said. “Additionally, most airports are already at capacity and don’t have space to build-out or expand existing inspection areas. Putting in the wrong solution could not only create longer queues and take more space but also delay flights and displace airport seating areas and retail operations which keep the airports in business.”
S&T has focused on developing biometric immigration checks that minimize floor space, infrastructure, and staffing to simplifying its integration into existing international airports. With fingerprint recognition, face recognition, and iris recognition now available, biometrics technology has advanced in recent years.
Recent S&T assessments of the Apex AEER program have been conducted at the Maryland Test Facility. Overall, more than 150 commercial and government technologies have been reviewed.
“The real-world testing simulations have given S&T and CBP the ability to accurately evaluate multiple technologies and processes without negatively impacting the traveling public or putting anyone at risk,” Vemury said. “The use of the facility also helps keep costs down since we can test more things more quickly without delaying any travelers.”
Assessments have focused on technology and procedures. After vetting manufacturer’s claims and the ability of technology to be integrated within an overall system, S&T issues recommendations for CBP to consider in future deployments.
“CBP’s partnership with DHS S&T has informed many aspects of our biometric entry/exit transformation efforts,” Colleen Manaher, executive director of policy, program analysis and evaluation at CBP’s Office of Field Operations, said. “We are grateful for our strong relationship with DHS S&T and look forward to continuing our combined efforts.”