Federal police testing electronic passport reader at airports

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brazil's federal police force is testing a new technological solution that promises to streamline immigration's handling of passengers at airports, BNamericas has learned.

Dubbed "Rapid" for the automatic recognition of passenger ID documents, the device is designed to read electronic passports, issued with computer chips and biometric technology. Also known as e-passports, the documents are considered safer, as they are more difficult to falsify and can store more passenger data.

The Rapid system was developed by Portuguese IT solutions company Vision-Box and is being tested in Brazil in partnership between the federal police department and Portugal's foreigners and frontiers service, SEF, an official at the Portuguese embassy in Brazil told BNamericas.

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The system reduces the time passengers spend at immigration control and diminishes the need for officials to check passports one by one.

The device compares the passport photo with passengers' faces using biometric data analysis. Once the verification is performed, within seconds passengers will be allowed to pass through immigration. If any errors or incorrect information is detected, an immigration officer will appear.

Brasília's international airport is the first to carry out the tests. At end-July, the facility received two Rapid equipment devices, according to the embassy. One was placed in the boarding area, while the other at international arrivals.

According to Portugal's embassy, in the initial phase the project only extends to Portuguese and Brazilian citizens with diplomatic and/or official e-passports. In the second stage, it will be expanded to all citizens possessing e-passports.

Electronic gates like Rapid are currently used in Portugal, the UK, Australia and some airports in the US.

If the device is approved, the goal is to expand it to the country's main airports by 2014, when Brazil will host the World Cup.