Bristol Airport has introduced automated security measures at its border controls, allowing passengers to scan their own passports, and helping police identify wanted crooks before they enter the country.
Costing £1.2bn to implement, the e-Border system scans the facial features of passengers, and then checks the data against their passport photo – however grim it may be.
The addition of fingerprint visas and ID cards, in tandem with e-Border, represents a major overhaul of airport security measures, the first of its kind in almost fifty years.
Bristol joins Stansted and Manchester airports as pioneers of self-scanning technology, but fingerprint visas have been a facet of airport terminals for a number of months. The UK Border Agency hopes that all UK sites will carry the technology before the end of the year.
UK border controls were tightened following the destruction of the World Trade Centre in September 2001 and the discovery of the transatlantic bomb plot five years later – an event that reached a crescendo at the beginning of the month.
Since then, passengers have had to endure lengthy queues, a ban on liquids, and gun-toting police officers stalking the terminals. All of that could change, however, if trials of a new liquid scanner prove successful.
The device, designed to detect flammable and explosive products, could save the Border Agency over £100m in extra surveillance systems. Used in conjunction with e-Border technology, UK airports could experience gentle security measures for the first time in a decade.
Critics have warned officials away from entrusting life and limb to robots and machines, but the ‘automatic airport’ is clearly a priority for the Border Agency.