In 2002, a couple of Japanese visitors to Australia swapped passports with each other before walking through an automatic biometric border control gate being tested at Sydney airport. The facial recognition algorithm falsely matched each of them to the others' passport photo. These gentlemen were in fact part of an international aviation industry study group and were in the habit of trying to fool biometric systems then being trialed round the world. When I heard about this successful prank, I quipped that the algorithms were probably written by white people - because we think all Asians look the same. Colleagues thought I was making a typical sick joke, but actually I was half-serious.
The Victorian government has announced an overhaul of the state's road safety cameras after the WannaCry ransomware that claimed hundreds of thousands of victims across 150 countries last year found itself on speed and red-light cameras on state roads last June. The announcement on Thursday sees an overhaul of the network's governance and security protocols, following a report from Road Safety Camera Commissioner John Voyage. The report, commissioned by Minister for Police Lisa Neville, and all of its recommendations will be accepted and "fully implemented", the state government said. According to Voyage, the virus did not affect the network's "integrity". "Our road safety camera network is integral to protecting the lives of Victorians on the road.
Australia's international airports are in the process of automating 90 percent of air traveler processing by 2020 by implementing facial recognition technology that involves biometric recognition of faces, irises and/or fingerprints, hence eliminating the need to carry essential traveling documents such as passports. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection, while building on the Seamless Traveller initiative announced in 2015, said Sunday that it will make a transition toward a "contactless" system for arrivals this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Under the new system, manned counters will be replaced by automatic electronic booths and the existing SmartGate that scan passports electronically will also be overhauled. Before introducing it to a major airport (scheduled for November), the program is to be piloted in July at Canberra Airport where international flight operations are limited to New Zealand and Singapore. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is scheduled to implement the technology in all major airports by March 2019.
Some passengers travelling internationally via Qantas will be trialling biometric technology at Sydney Airport, with the first stage using facial recognition for them to complete automated flight check-in and bag drop, gain access to the lounge, and board the plane itself. Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing, allowing passengers to use their face as their access identification. As the launch partner for the trial, Qantas worked with the airport "from the outset", with Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson noting the airline is focused on increasing the use of technology to drive innovation for customers. "There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we're excited to see what results the trial produces," she added. Sydney Airport said consent is actively sought from all passengers and the "strictest level of privacy" is adhered to on behalf of those participating in the trial.
If you're the type of traveler that can never remember which pocket you put your passport in when asked to produce it by airport officials, then Australia's plan for a major overhaul of its checking systems is likely to appeal. The nation's Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aiming to do away with the need for passports at its international airports by introducing systems for biometric recognition of the face, iris and/or fingerprints, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported. International arrivals could speed through airside without ever interacting with a human official as the new technology -- part of the government's high-tech Seamless Traveler initiative aimed at transforming the border experience -- will eradicate the need for passport checks and passenger cards. Besides making the arrival experience more efficient, officials also believe the system will be better at identifying passengers on watch lists. While a number of airports have for several years been using so-called smart gates that prompt travelers to scan their passports upon arrival, the new system, which the government wants in place within the next three years, goes much further.