SmartGate coming

March 26, 2008 at 10:33 pm Leave a comment

Given front page news that SmartGate “would be tested in Wellington in the next few months and available for all trans-Tasman travel in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup,” I was curious to see what reaction it would evoke in NZ.

Not too much. Over at NZ Herald, Peter Griffin in a blog post was cautiously welcoming (once he got an ePassport). Other than that, I haven’t come across anything. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

SmartGate is an Australian self-service automated passport checking system that involves a kiosk and a gate. Step 1 checks if a traveller can use the automated option including the immigration and customs checks. Notably, this step includes “The photo in the ePassport is electronically retrieved and stored in a database.”

In Step 2, at the gate, a camera compares an image of the traveller’s face using facial recognition against the image stored in the database.

For eligible travellers who pass the Step 1 checks, SmartGate should reduce airport queues. Despite it’s troubled past, it’s believed to be operating smoothly in Brisbane and Cairns International Airports. An interim solution is also working in Sydney and Melbourne International Airports. Currently, only Australians and Kiwis can use SmartGate in these airports.

According to the FAQs, “All personal data collected via SmartGate, (including the photograph), will be treated in the same way as information collected manually upon arrival.” Also worth noting on the positive side is that the system is optional (see earlier post about the power of choice) and does not use fingerprints (see earlier post about this).

Still, an Australian system, biometrics, some unanswered questions… I would have thought some of these would lead to greater public interest in NZ; though not necessarily negative as Peter Griffin’s post shows.


Entry filed under: Aus, authentication, biometrics, government, NZ, privacy.

Interviewing Simon Willison about OpenID Aus: If everyone was your Brother

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