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Published On: Tue, Dec 12th, 2017

Singapore Testing High-Tech Car Clearance at Checkpoints

Singapore is testing a new high-tech clearance system at checkpoints that may be up and running as early as next year, according to a report from the Straits Times.

The system, which would greet drivers at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, includes biometric scanners, robotic arms and facial detection technology.

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photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said the goal of the system is to allow officers to focus on more critical tasks and to enhance security. Officials say that biometrics technology, which is more reliable for verifying identities, will allow officers to focus on high-risk travelers and those trying to enter the country illegally.

According to Immigration Solutions in Singapore, the country has cut down its number of approved PR (permanent resident) applications by 50% since 2009. Illegal entry into the country has since become a problem.

The high-tech system is called the “automated passenger in-car clearance system,” or Apics, and is part of the ICA’s shift towards using biometrics for self-clearance.

If the tests are successful, the system may become the first country to use a comprehensive in-car clearance system.

Apics starts by scanning a traveler’s passport before they enter a secure zone. Drivers will step out of the vehicle and scan the passports of everyone inside the car. Once scanned, officers will complete their inspections and send motorists to the secure zone. Once in the secure zone, passenger identities are verified using thumbprint scanning.

Robotic arms will extend to the window of the vehicle for thumbprinting. Each arm contains a wireless touchscreen and an intercom. The touchscreen scans the thumbprint of the individual to verify his or her identity.

The robotic arms can be repositioned, and passengers can even remove the touchscreen devices to use them inside of the vehicle.

The car is cleared when travelers complete the check and return all devices.

The system is still a work in progress, and has been modified since the trial started in July. More changes are expected before the system is rolled out.

The trial period will determine whether the system is user-friendly and frees up officers to work elsewhere. But officials warn that biometrics does have restrictions that cannot be resolved at this moment in time.

Currently, officers check and clear all passports manually at land checkpoints. Last year, checkpoints also implemented the Bioscreen system, which turns away immigrations and travelers using false identities.

Self-clearance gates, which scan thumbprints and passports of travelers, are is already in use at Singapore’s sea, air and land checkpoints.

Even if the system is deemed a success, officers will be on standby to clear certain travelers, such as children.

During the trial period, there is one kiosk per checkpoint. Once the system is rolled out, one kiosk may serve multiple zones. A kiosk serving multiple zones would require fewer standby officers.

The goal of the Apics system is to clear 25 cars per hour, not accounting for high-risk travelers and other issues that may extend inspection times.

The trial is expected to continue through June 2018, but its length will be determined by the amount of data collected.

Author: Jacob Maslow

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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