Biometric gates for Cairo air passengers

Biometric immigration gates are to be introduced for the first time in Egypt as part of the US$400m terminal 3 development at Cairo Airport.

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By  Diana Milne Published  October 1, 2006

Biometric immigration gates are to be introduced for the first time in Egypt as part of the US$400m terminal 3 development at Cairo Airport. Leading international systems integrator Arinc has won the US$22m contract to build the IT infrastructure at the terminal, due to open in early 2008, which includes the country’s first biometric immigration gates, which will be installed at a cost of up to US$5m. The gates themselves will serve as many as 28 airlines operating from Cairo, and be installed with the help of telecoms giant SAGEM. Jelloul Hamrouni, Arinc’s director of airport services for the Middle East, said the technology would be used to provide an optional fast-track entry and exit system for passengers carrying Egyptian residence visas. The gates will use fingerprint recognition technology to authenticate the identity of passengers who have paid to use the system, before letting them pass through automatically without having to show their passports to the immigration authorities. Although the system is optional, Hamrouni claimed it could still lead to enhanced security as there is scope to link the database of passenger fingerprints with police, immigration and airline databases. The system should definitely lead to a speedier, more convenient service, according to Hamrouni. “The police will focus only on cases that are difficult with visas or with passports,” he argued. It has not yet been decided how many of the biometric immigration gates will be built at the terminal – but Hamrouni believes that if the scheme is successful it will be rolled out to the airport’s other existing two terminals. “Our contract is for the new terminal but I would not be surprised if once tested and working they will extend it to the two other terminals,” he said. Hamrouni revealed too that a request for proposal (RFP) inviting bids for the deployment of similar technology at Kuwait Airport has also recently been launched and said Arinc was considering bidding for it. The terminal 3 development at Cairo Airport includes 14 airport IT systems from passenger check-in systems and flight information displays to resource management systems and an Arinc airport operational database (AODB). The network infrastructure will be built using technology from Cisco and will be designed to provide IP telephony and to carry voice and data traffic. Hamrouni explained that the terminal will feature two other technology debuts for Egypt – the country’s first common use self service check-in kiosks (CUSS) built using technology from Arinc and an airport ramp management (ARM) system from Appear, which uses a “context aware platform”. The latter will be used to provide a system for the turn around of planes at the airport and information will be provided to those involved in the process, such as cleaners or handling agents, according to their job and location via handheld devices. Hamrouni said the whole project was particularly complex as it involves integrating the new technology with existing systems in the airport and ensuring that the disparate systems from different vendors are able to work together. “You are dealing with many different systems,” said Hamrouni. “The public address should talk to the AODB, should talk to the check in, should talk to the flight information displays. As it’s not your technology - you are dealing with third party technology - you have to understand the system, how it works and use open standards and that’s why it is particularly complex.” SAGEM provides telecommunications defence and security solutions for the Arinc group, including biometrics technology. SAGEM is part of French technology conglomerate SAFRAN - organized into four branches: aerospace propulsion, aircraft equipment, defence, security, and communications – and has already proven a key player in many airport developments around the world. The new IT platform will also enhance both efficiency and security, by linking employees automatically with the precise IT applications they require for work at all times. Airport applications will “come into view” spontaneously as a function of the user’s profile, work assignment, type of electronic access (by workstation, portable computer, PDA, smart phone, or tablet PC), log-in location and the time of day. The platform is designed to enable secure exchange of passenger and flight information, catering orders, security, and maintenance tools – making Cairo one of the most advanced airports in the Middle East.

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