European member states and their border control partners are adapting to new EES regulations, and countries that still implement biometrics and other new technologies to do so can benefit from the experience of those who do. are further along in the process.
SSARM is one of the leading IT systems integrators in Bulgaria and has been awarded a major contract to equip Bulgarian aviation platforms with EES-compliant border control solutions following a tender issued l last year by the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.
In the meantime, SSARM has fully installed a secure turnkey solution at the airports of Sofia, Varna and Burgas in cooperation with its German partner secunet. Bulgaria thus became one of the first countries in Europe to comprehensively prepare its busiest air borders for the EU-wide entry / exit system, well ahead of its planned launch in May 2022. .
Nikolay Dimchev, Managing Director of SSARM, discusses the project, its most interesting findings and the added value for passengers, border control and airports.
What exactly have you installed at the airports of Varna, Bourgas and Sofia and why?
EES installations in Bulgarian air hubs: Burgas airport. Read more
The reason for the implementation of new border control systems is closely linked to the EU decision to introduce the entry / exit system throughout the Schengen area in 2022. By taking facial images and fingerprints, all Member States will in future know better which third-country nationals are. entering the EU and ensure that individual passengers do not exceed the length of stay. It improves safety for all of us.
However, incorporating these additional process steps into primary border control risks causing a collapse if the infrastructure remains unchanged, as customs clearance takes an average of 40-45 seconds longer – per passenger! Therefore, automation of processes at all possible stages, i.e. also at fixed border control counters, is inevitable. The Interior Ministry therefore decided to completely modernize the border control technology and entrusted us with the implementation. We then installed – in collaboration with our project partner secunet – ABC doors, self-service kiosks as well as camera systems and fingerprint readers for the fixed counters of the three aeronautical platforms in Bulgaria. The technologies perform very different functions and are sometimes intended for different groups of passengers – but all the technologies put together will significantly speed up the border control process and significantly reduce the workload of the responsible officers.
Why did you decide to call on secunet as a partner for the implementation of the EES? SSARM is itself a well-positioned IT systems integrator.
We have been working with secunet for a long time in the field of high security technologies and they have constantly proven to us in previous projects that the quality of their products is not only correct, but also fully meets the requirements of our customers. The secunet experts simply understood the processes and requirements on the customer side well and implemented them in their products respectively. This is why we also contacted secunet for the EES project. Although we ourselves are in an excellent position as a system integrator who is very familiar with the Bulgarian market, we do not have our own product portfolio in this area.
We were also convinced by secunet’s EES solutions: they provide EES compliant biometric solutions, which ensure the highest possible quality of biometric capture and are designed to be highly resistant to circumvention and tampering. This is extremely important, especially for unattended systems where the agent is not standing right next to them to monitor every passenger. And finally, all the products have a very eye-catching and modern design – not to be underestimated given today’s innovative airport architectures.
Modernizing the border control infrastructure was certainly a major investment. What benefits does this bring for passengers, airports and border control?
ABC gates and self-service kiosk systems at Sofia Airport. Read more
The benefits are quickly summed up: Passengers – wherever they come from – now have access to automation technologies at Bulgarian airports in Sofia, Varna and Burgas. If you want, they have at least part of their border crossing in their hands. With intuitive user guidance and innovative security mechanisms, passengers can be confident that their data will be captured quickly and processed securely and in accordance with data protection regulations. High-quality biometric acquisition is of course particularly important for border police. The agents are also ideally supported by technologies and are not subject to additional constraints. And airports benefit from the fact that despite more extensive border control processes, which actually take longer, there aren’t many more queues and missed connecting flights. In short: Through automation and process optimization, we have ensured that the deadlines and increasing number of passengers in “EES operations” can also be absorbed deeply and safely.
What are your most important ideas from this EES project?
Impressions of easytowers and easygates installed at Varna airport. Read more
In fact, we faced the same challenges in the EES project as in almost all IT projects: when things become more concrete than a description on paper, it is not uncommon for new or changed requirements to arise from the side. of the customer and must be implemented. in the current short-term project. This is completely normal and we can cope with it very well.
In the case of EES installations, for example, we installed the most modern and secure products and we had to realize that this was not enough. Border control projects are about more than “just” installing technology. The products must optimize passenger processes and integrate seamlessly into the respective environment and infrastructure, which are different at each airport and at each land border. It was an important and new idea for us. In this specific case, we have also incorporated functional improvements into the current project that were not previously planned. The installation of glass walls between fixed and automated border control or the construction of racks for fingerprint readers, which otherwise would not be perfectly positioned for passengers, are small examples. Fortunately, together with secunet, we were able to respond quickly and as needed to all new customer requirements, integrate them into the implementation of the project and deliver them on time.
Another important idea but certainly not new is this: you have to react flexibly until the end and stay focused on the details if you want perfectly fitting and visually appealing installations.
Are there any other points that you would particularly like to highlight?
The EES facility was our first border control project, our first, so to speak. We are proud and relieved to have fulfilled the task to the great satisfaction of the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior. Having secunet people on board, who are very experienced, has of course been a huge advantage for us. During a pandemic, we learned a lot together and supported each other in the best possible way, even though we were forced to do so “remotely” for most of the project. Thanks to this perfect collaboration, we were able to implement the installations on time and achieve the stated objective of the client: Bulgaria is one of the first countries in the EU to be equipped with a comprehensive compliant solution. at the EES in the three aeronautical hubs, well before the official launch of the entry / exit system. We are proud of it.
ABC Doors | biometric identification | biometrics | border control | Bulgaria | entry / exit | Europe | facial recognition | fingerprint recognition | passenger handling | secunet