Chris Gilliland, director of Innovative Travel Solutions at Vancouver Airport, discusses streamlining border control solutions in airports and why humans will always play a vital role in the border clearance process.
The innovation team at Vancouver Airport are pioneers when it comes to improving automated border control. Can you tell us more about this team?
Innovative Travel Solutions (ITS) is an independent business unit within Vancouver International Airport. The team specialises in developing and delivering innovative industry-leading travel technology to enhance the overall traveller experience and airport performance.
The team has primarily been focused on developing and selling BorderXpress – a self-service border control solution – with Canadian, US and global solutions available. The team has more than ten years of experience in kiosk design, kiosk user experience, kiosk layout, flow analysis and continuous improvement for automating border control systems at airports around the world.
What is BorderXpress and how does it work?
BorderXpress is the world’s first self-service border control solution that accepts all passports and doesn’t require pre-registration or fees. It automates the administrative functions of border control with a two-step process that makes it faster and more efficient.
First, travellers must complete the data-entry function themselves at the kiosk, which sends their encrypted information to a border control agency that assesses the data and returns a government response in seconds.
Once this is done and with their receipt in hand, travellers proceed to a border control officer who verifies the document. This additional step provides governments with an enhanced level of safety and security, as compared to competing technologies, as a border officer will always have the final approval to allow a traveller into the country.
Where are the kiosks currently in operation?
More than 1,300 BorderXpress kiosks are in use at 39 airport and seaport locations across Canada, the US and the Pacific. But ITS is looking to expand to new markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Is this technology suitable for smaller airports too?
BorderXpress works for every size of airport and can be installed anywhere in the airport’’s facility, with many different layout possibilities. ITS works with each airport individually to determine the optimal solution to their challenge and ensures the number of kiosks and layout is as efficient as possible and accommodates each airport’s individual needs. BorderXpress kiosks are also simple to install and can be moved around if there is a change in the floor plan.
Why are self-service solutions a must-have for airports and are these solutions realistic in terms of cost for regional airports and those serving low-fare airlines?
Eligible travellers experience an immigration process that’s 89% faster than typical border inspections. Non-eligible passengers see a 33% increase in efficiency because of the faster moving lines. And as an added bonus, airports save valuable space as the faster passenger flow reduces congestion and frees up room for other airport features, amenities and procedures.
BorderXpress kiosks are a highly cost-effective way to modernise and improve the border clearance process, resulting in shorter waits for travellers, fewer missed connections and cost and space savings for airports.
What are the implications of self-service kiosks in terms of the impact on employment opportunities for border control officers?
The kiosk’s primary role is to automate the administrative functions of border services officers. Border services officers still play a crucial role in verifying the document produced by the kiosk. They will always have the final approval to allow a traveller into the country so will remain a vital part of the border clearance process.
BorderXpress helps border services officers work more efficiently, processing up to four times more travellers. It also frees up agents to focus on valuable work such as intelligence and enforcement activities.
What are your key strategic objectives for 2018 and are there any new products in the pipeline?
We are continuously working to develop and deliver industry-leading travel solutions. ITS is currently looking to expand its BorderXpress offering to new markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Profit from the sales of the BorderXpress kiosks are reinvested back into our innovation programme, enabling the team to continue to look for opportunities to innovate and develop technology that enhances the overall traveller experience and improve the airport’s operations. The ITS team is excited to be working on several other products including one that automates passenger processing for tagging and checking bags. More details on these new innovations will be available in 2018.