25 Jan 2017

Are passports about to expire?

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:35 pm on 25 January 2017

Could passports become a thing of the past? Australia is looking at making radical changes to its international airports.

From July, passengers flying into Canberra from Wellington could pass through immigration and customs, without coming across humans.

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Photo: 123RF

Manned desks, passenger cards and passports could disappear forever.

And the security system overhaul would see these replaced with a biometric self-processing system, called the Seamless Traveller.

Head of border security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Dr John Coyne Says the technology that will allow this is the latest in  facial recognition.  

“The facial recognition software is almost done in real time using a video camera. You walk down a corridor see a very unobtrusive camera hanging from the roof in a little dome.”

The camera takes live footage of you and compares it with images of your face held on file – if they match your identify is verified and you go through.

Dr Coyne says the Australian authorities are focussed on getting the vast majority of passengers with low risk profiles through airports quickly and safely.

“How do we focus all our efforts on high risk travellers, while allowing people who are low or no risk to go through the border process as quickly as possible?”

And for those worried about Big Brother there is a trade-off, he says.

“There is a cost but by trading off your personal data, what you’re getting in return is to be able to move through airports quicker and to have better security.”