Facial recognition e-technology proposed for Airports before Olympic 2012 starts

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UK Border Agencies

UK Immigration is working swiftly to have facial recognition technology installed at London’s Heathrow Airport in time for the Olympics. The original plan was to have the system in place across all five of Heathrow’s terminals, however, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has said that a number of delays have occurred that may prevent this from happening.

Back in July 2011, the UKBA was given permission to install the e-gate facial recognition technology at Heathrow Airport. The new system would allow registered non-EU nationals to utilise electronic self-service UK Immigration controls that would hopefully speed up security checks. With the impending arrival of many people to Britain’s shores during the summer months, the system would undoubtedly speed up the process of necessary security checks.

Yet, Heathrow officials have stated that the implementation of the system has currently stalled whilst UK Immigration looks to conclude an investigation into last year’s unauthorised relaxation of Immigration checks.

The company that owns London’s Heathrow Airport, the BAA, released a statement saying:  ”BAA has installed new automated Immigration clearance gates at all Heathrow terminals to improve queuing times for passengers. UKBA is responsible for border security and has been working to bring these new gates online but has paused this process while it completes internal investigations.”

  • The ongoing investigation into the scandal created by last year’s relaxed border checks has seen UKBA resources stretched to the limit. With that in mind, the agency has simply not had the time to complete the required security database of travellers that have already registered to use the new facial recognition system. The system itself will make use of facial recognition technology to compare a person’s face to the photograph recorded on the chip in their passport.

A statement released by the UKBA said: “Our responsibility is to secure the border at all times and we will ensure sufficient resources and technology are put in place to meet the extra demand during the Olympics period.”