Australian Customs uses big data to assess visitors

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has introduced an advanced passenger analysis solution which uses big data to help ACBPS officials identify suspicious visitors.

The IBM offering collects and stores passenger name record (PNR) data which is then assessed with other relevant information. PNR data is shared between airline carriers and ACBPS officials.

According to ACBPS, the solution eliminates the manual and time consuming process of pulling data from multiple host systems. Officials now receive real-time data for all departures and arrivals.

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  • ACBPS national manager for target assessment and selection, Terry Wall, said that nearly 30 million airline passengers passed through Australia’s borders during the past 12 months, an increase of 5 per cent on 2011.

    “With IBM’s advanced passenger analysis solution integrated with our existing risk assessment tools, we can look at a range of data, using the government's criteria, and identify potentially high-risk passengers," he said in a statement.

    “This will also ensure our resources are deployed with greater precision when it comes to securing Australia’s borders.”

    Wall added that the offering is compliant with data privacy and access requirements of the Customs Act, the Australian Privacy Act and the provisions of the European Union-Australia PNR Agreement.

    The solution commenced operations in June 2013.

    An ACBPS spokesperson said that the IBM offering represents only part of its end-to-end passenger risk assessment technology stack.

    "It was selected based on an independent market analysis following direct solicitation from IBM," the spokesperson said in a statement.

    "Our existing investment in IBM software and hardware meant that the new transformation service would seamlessly integrate with our current frameworks and risk assessment processes."

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    In May 2012, home affairs and justice minister Jason Clare announced that the automated border processing technology, Smartgate, was slated for a $7.9 million expansion over the next two years.

    Smartgate technology uses a combination of electronic information stored on e-passports and face recognition to perform customs and immigration checks.

    An additional 20 Smartgate terminals will be installed, with Sydney and Melbourne international airports to be the first recipients due to their high passenger volumes. Brisbane and Gold Coast airports are next to follow.

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