The failure of the automated immigration technology at international airports in April has shone a spotlight on how much we rely on technology for security purposes, and also brought into question whether the technology failure created a security vulnerability.
Speaking about the incident, John Coyne, Head of the Border Security Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told SBS how ABF officers brought in to manually process passengers will need to do so as quickly as possible, while trying to minimise the security risks.
“There are a whole heap of systems that come together to form a sort of ecosystem at the border and if one falls down, they all fall down,” he said.
“As a result of the fact that the kiosks are down and there is more manual processing going on, there is, of course, a risk that Interpol notices will not go off in the same way they would if it was connected to the kiosk system.’’
So while facial recognition software is far more accurate than the human eye, the heightened risks lie with the lack of other automatic warning systems that may be affected by such an outage.
Approximately 5.37 million passengers were carried on Australian domestic planes in April 2019 and, with the increase in passengers, comes the increase in security incidents.
A report by the Commonwealth Auditor-General revealed:
“On average, in each year over the last three financial years, the AFP has dealt with 21,146 incidents and made 2,621 apprehensions and 312 arrests across the ten airports. The number of arrests has increased by 42.6% over the three-year period from July 2010 to June 2013. The offences ranged from offensive and disorderly behaviour to matters relating to aviation and aircraft security.”
It is crucial the aviation industry works to recognise suspicious activity, understand the latest threats, and keep up with evolving concealment techniques, for both operational efficiency and the safety of passengers and staff.
You can hear Dr Coyne speak at the APAC Airport Security Summit, running at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport Hotel from 30-31 July 2019, . The conference will be addressing the security challenges that arise as we rely more heavily on technology systems that require less and less human intervention.