The Impetus for Changing Border Security Paradigms to Stem Trans-Regional Migration Crisis and Global Open Border Terrorism through an Innovative, Integrated Approach

The Challenge

Let’s face it: aviation, ground and maritime border security used to be one of the most fundamental pillars of every sovereign nation. Moreover, even during world wars and intense regional conflicts, governments could rely on an international system of checks and balances that was rooted in respecting each other’s sovereignty, access control, and a ‘hand shake’ in the form of a credentialed passport. But that has all changed with the confluence of recent transregional conflicts and abject poverty, which have displaced millions of people and precipitated a mass migration crisis.

The growing global border security crisis is being fueled by millions of refugees fleeing the horrific violence created by radical extremism in the region of Iraq and Syria, as well as migrants from Africa and Asia looking to escape extreme poverty by pouring into Europe. Borderless terrorism that respects no conventions, archaic security protocols that were designed post WWII, and the velocity of crises have created an urgent need to re-examine border control protocol.

Nothing exemplifies the urgent need for effective border security more than the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. Using displaced refugees as cover, radicalized extremists infiltrated Europe with the intent of committing acts of terrorism. The perpetrators, taking advantage of the EU’s open border policy, were able to slip back and forth across the entire continent without any hindrance or observation.

The challenge facing governments around the world, in both developed and developing nations, is determining what strategic solutions for border security will work as the threat of ‘Trojan horse terrorism’ and uncontrollable economic burdens continue to plague them. Worse, how can they achieve the humanitarian balance between securing the border and sustaining the values of free societies where citizens of democratic government and pluralistic societies thrive on diversity and respect for human rights?

The Strategic Solution

To address this strategic challenge in a time of increased globalization and aviation connectivity, criminal activity and the threats of attacks on aircrafts by terrorists remain a persistent and growing concern for our world. With the large number of passengers traveling through airports every day, it is critical that immigration and security checkpoints are equipped with the necessary and proper resources, infrastructure, and training needed to identify and uncover potential security risks and criminal activity.

Within the past decade there has been tremendous improvements in the technology, systems, and processes in place at airports to assist security personnel. However, many airports and nations have yet to make the transition to these more effective technologies, leaving their borders unprotected and unsecure.

Securiport, a global leader in the design and implementation of passenger biometric recognition, civil aviation security, immigration control systems, and intelligent information management and reporting software systems, is committed to the Science of Safer Nations.  Through the improvement of the capabilities and effectiveness of civil aviation security systems and processes, Securiport hopes to create more secure nations and borders to ultimately enhance international passenger safety.

As world leaders discuss various ideas and methods to address the cause of these many crises, one issue that every nation must invariably address is how to establish border security in the 21st century. While nations will undoubtedly formulate varied policies on the issue of immigration, global security leaders must implement technological solutions that incorporate and integrate the following three strategic imperatives that Securiport calls the, “New Border Security Paradigm for Effective Migrant Control”.

1. Utilization Of International Watch Lists, Interpol Databases, And Local Security Databases On A Real-Time Basis

The greatest hurdles currently facing the global security community are the inconsistency of risk assessment and the inaccessibility of international databases. While databases such as Interpol’s Stolen & Lost Travel Document (SLTD) list are regularly checked during the immigration process at most European airports, the majority of airports in developing nations around the world do not perform any data checks. The immigration systems in most countries typically conduct ad hock checks against watch lists and criminal databases long after a traveler has arrived or departed, if at all. Also, nations typically invest resources into the risk assessment of travelers arriving into their countries instead of paying concern to screening those departing. International security databases need to be made accessible to global security officers, and regular risk assessments of all travellers needs to be implemented consistently upon both departures and arrivals.

We must begin to use technology and systems for the real-time identification and assessment of individuals who potentially represent a security threat.

2. Fusion Of Advanced Biometrics, Identity Controls, & Predictive Analytics

While a few nations have begun to incorporate sophisticated biometric measures into their immigration control and migrant registration systems, many nations with little or no local resources still rely on primitive techniques and visual inspections to validate a traveller’s identity or to ascertain the authenticity of a travel document. The fact is that there are numerous false passports produced by criminal and terrorist organizations, alike.

Earlier this year, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed reports that the terrorist organization known as ISIS had acquired blank passports and at least one passport printing machine after taking over government offices in the Syrian city of Raqqa, and had begun producing fake passports with genuine materials. This gives ISIS the ability to print legitimate-looking Syrian passports, raising the possibility that individuals who potentially represent a security threat have entered Europe or the United States using forged passports. Consequently, the utilization of passport scanners, which authenticate a travel document by checking the document’s security features,  is inadequate. Similarly, the use of advanced biometrics on a stand-alone basis will not flag a potential person of interest. However, intelligent systems which combine biometric identity controls, travel document authentication, and structured database checks with predictive analytics raise the bar to 21st century standards and increase the likelihood of identifying members of terrorist and criminal organizations. Such predictive analytics, which are based on big data analytics of both structured and unstructured data through using behavior analysis, pattern recognition, and profiling, are being used by some countries with very positive results.

3. Cognitive Integration Of Global Best Practices With Culture-Specific Security

No matter how many high-tech biometrics systems, video surveillance cameras, facial recognition analytics, and physical access control gates are placed in airports and seaports, the most strategically important factor is understanding the local culture in the specific country of origin. While law enforcement and border security officers share the same mission everywhere, they are human beings first. They share and protect their own cultures and use their local logic in assessing, identifying, and dealing with security risks. They prioritize risk differently all over the world. This common gap in security perspectives often results in a hole that terrorists and criminals can exploit. For this reason, technical security solutions must be complemented by adapted local situational awareness, business process rules, and cultural considerations. No nation is alike. No government is alike. No threat assessment is alike.

Results & Consequences

In order to prevent the next Paris, the next San Bernardino, or next Brussels, global security leaders must adapt quickly to a new integrated migration control paradigm. When fused with comprehensive understanding of the local culture, business processes, and law enforcement training that respects local values, Securiport’s best-in-class biometrics and predictive risk assessment technologies will virtually eradicate security failures. However, if any one of the elements in this paradigm is absent, there will be transitional gaps that criminals and terrorist organizations will continue to exploit. By applying all three elements of Securiport’s border control paradigm, we are more likely to avert tragedies instead of looking back and asking what could have been done to be prevent them.