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You can run but you can’t hide! That’s the message to criminals trying to escape justice by fleeing abroad, as well as those travelling between countries to engage in illegal activities.
In an era of mass global travel – aircraft passenger numbers alone are forecast to reach well over two billion in 2010 – Electronic Borders are proving to be an impressive ally in the fight against crime.
Many thousands of lawbreakers have been brought to justice thanks to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) under which growing numbers of governments require airlines to capture passenger details prior to departure.
In the UK alone, API triggered 70,000 alerts in 12 months. These led to 5,250 arrests for crimes ranging from drug dealing to murder.
API is one element of the low-cost Electronic Borders immigration data service portfolio developed by master systems integrator ARINC, which has been providing security solutions for commercial, government, and defence industries for many years.
The Electronic Borders service offers a unique solution for border control agencies, airlines, airports and seaports that have to wrestle with multiple international data requirements. It enables them to meet the most stringent security and immigration demands world-wide with a single interface and a common-language application that translates messages from disparate agencies and systems.
There are three elements in ARINC’s Electronic Borders service – Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), Interactive APIS (iAPIS) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) processing.
APIS captures biographic data and travel details of all passengers and crew members on commercial and charter airlines and cruise ships before departure. This information is stored and processed electronically using International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-defined machine-readable travel documents (MRTDs) such as a passport. The data is subsequently translated into the format required by the border control agency in the destination country where it is not only checked against computer databases and watch lists but also used for immigration processing, security and customs purposes.
Governments in the USA, Spain, China, Syria, Kenya and Morocco are among those which require API before allowing travellers to enter their country. Some governments demand API only from airlines that fly specific routes that are deemed to be high risk. There is a substantial per-passenger fine for carriers that fail to provide this information.
API and PNR use resources more effectively. If API has a shortcoming it is that the information is forwarded to the destination country only after take-off. So, although API makes it easier to process low-risk travellers and harder for unauthorised or suspect passengers to slip through the net, the post-departure risk assessment could conceivably result in a costly recall or diversion if checks against watch lists reveal a suspect passenger.
This problem can be overcome with the use of iAPIS which allows airline staff to conduct a real-time pre-boarding check against immigration databases. At the same time, the information is circulated to relevant agencies – police forces, customs officers, Interpol and intelligence services. No passenger can be issued with a boarding pass until specific authorisation has been received.
Security is further enhanced when API or iAPIS is used in conjunction with PNR, which captures information from the airline reservation system, providing details of how and by whom tickets are booked and paid for, plus relevant addresses and telephone numbers. These facts give border control agencies, law enforcement organisations and intelligence services a significant head-start on checking names against watch lists, identifying suspect travel patterns, calculating potential risks and locating suspects.
Secure data transmission
The capture of increasing amounts of personal information gives passengers real concerns about data protection. However, ARINC’s fully-managed AviNet global communications and message switching network provides the end-to-end security that is impossible with a public internet connection. This protects passengers’ privacy while allowing carriers to meet their legal obligations.
Among governments using ARINC’s immigration data services are Bermuda, South Korea, the USA, the UK, CARICOM, Spain, Hong Kong and several European and South American countries.
While complying with industry standards and guidelines defined by international trade organisations and governments, ARINC’s Electronic Borders service can be tailored and scaled to meet specific customer requirements. Airlines can select the service that best suits them – Type A Host to Host, Type A Host to Terminal, Type B, Type X (XML) and the manual method. ARINC can also provide a network protocol conversion service delivering any customised data format required. Such versatility assists project implementation by meeting both the requirements and budgets of individual airlines.
Information exchange is a key factor in the fight against crime and technology facilitates international cooperation on a previously unimaginable scale. Electronic Borders is just one of ARINC’s cutting edge technology solutions designed to enhance security throughout the entire travel process.
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