RFID for Border Security

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 01:40 PM

Tags: RFID, Access Control, Border Security

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Programs Simplify Passage for Pre-Approved Travelers

The U.S. customs and border protection agency (CBP) secures almost 7,000 miles of the U.S border and other coastal areas and is responsible for screening foreign visitors, returning American citizens, and cargo that enter the U.S. at more than 300 land, air and sea ports.  Its mission of securing trade and travel, enforcing hundreds of immigration and drug regulations and laws, and managing terror threats is a challenging one for sure.

US BorderWith thousands of people crossing the borders each day and being responsible for facilitating about $2 trillion in trade a year, leveraging the latest technology to support their operations is nothing new for the CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Now imagine the long lines and extended wait times that must be experienced by travelers, business professionals and workers crossing popular entry points into the U.S. 

Thankfully, to help elevate congestion and delay, the CBP and its neighboring counterparts have established programs designed to simplify passage for pre-approved frequent travelers crossing U.S. borders on a daily basis.  The NEXUS program administered at designated points along the United States and Canadian border and the SENTRI program in place along the U.S. – Mexico border, offer expedited processing to pre-screened travelers.  To serve the broadest population of travelers, NEXUS and SENTRI services are available at both designated traffic lanes at the border and at kiosks located in airports and at various marine locations.

How it works:  After a thorough background check, approved applicants are issued a photo ID that includes an RFID tag.  By simply waving this ID at border inspection areas outfitted with RFID readers, the information stored on the card is displayed on a computer and analyzed by CBP inspectors who verify that the card holder is an approved frequent traveler.  If all checks out, the traveler is authorized to proceed.

A similar RFID-enabled application developed by Neology is reportedly being used by the Mexican Border Patrol.  By combining Passive RFID with license plate recognition (LPR) into an electronic vehicle registration solution, the Mexican Army Bank is able to control the import and export of vehicles, immigration, and security along every entry and exit point into and out of Mexico.  The solution includes an RFID-based windshield tags that the company reports can be read on vehicles traveling at 100 mph.

According to the U.S. customs and border protection agency, the inspections enabled by RFID take less than 5 seconds, which is significantly less time than clearance through standard lanes. 

What do you think about RFID being used at the border?  How about RFID for other transportation, tolling or security applications?  We’d like to hear from you.

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