x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

All eyes on airport's new technology

A group of international security experts examines advanced biometric technology in use at Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3.

Officials at Dubai International Airport show an international delegation Terminal 3's new eye-scan technology.
Officials at Dubai International Airport show an international delegation Terminal 3's new eye-scan technology.

DUBAI // A group of international security experts yesterday got a look at advanced biometric technology at Dubai International Airport. Delegates from more than 35 countries including Japan, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US and India were shown the technology that processes thousands of people who pass through Terminal 3 each day. Lt Col Khaled Nasser al Razooqi, the assistant general director in charge of information technology at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), said there were 400,000 registered eGate users in the UAE.

Lt Col al Razooqi said the eGate card, which contained the holder's passport and personal details, would be replaced by the Emirates national ID card. Terminal 3, which opened in October, is expected to have 17,000 passengers a day, and the DNRD has to process everyone's entrance and exit visas as they pass through to stop criminals from entering the country. The gate is manned by officers who check passengers' pictures on a screen after they swipe their cards.

Travellers have their irises scanned and compared with a database containing more than a million scans of known criminals. The system takes just three seconds to make a match and alert the DNRD. The department recently installed newer machines that take scans of both eyes at once. The older machines were not as accurate and scanned only one eye at a time. "The lighting in the room has to be perfect for the machines. We created the room with that in mind and dimmed the lights," Lt Col al Razooqi said.

The iris scan was introduced to rule out fake passports and passengers trying to re-enter the UAE after deportation. Last year, 1,088 fake passports were seized in the UAE. Lt Col al Razooqi said the data were shared with other Gulf states. With the new Terminal 3, the airport is to be able to handle 60 million passengers annually, a target it is projected to reach within three years. "This tour of Terminal 3 at DIA is a great opportunity to see theory in practice," Lt Col al Razooqi said. "We are proud of what DNRD has achieved in the field of border control security supported by biometrics such as the iris scan and the eGate system."

The tour took place on the last day of the 7th Government Discussion Forum on Electronic Identity Documents, which was held by DNRD. Greg Pope, the chairman of the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association, said the Terminal 3 tour had been the highlight of the conference. "As an international business hub in the Gulf, Dubai has been an excellent venue where government agencies from around the world could once again meet and participate in these important and valuable discussions," Mr Pote said.

eharnan@thenational.ae