This is the first time that such self-service technological solutions have been deployed by a private transportation service provider for optimizing passenger flow at a border within an international rail hub.
The initiative, led in full coordination with Eurostar, the French border police (DCPAF) and the French Ministry of Interior, aims to maximise the speed and efficiency of the immigration clearance process for passengers travelling from the UK into continental Europe and the Schengen zone within a highly secure framework. It also represents the birth of a new generation of PARAFE, the French automated border crossing system that uses biometric authentication technology to verify the passengers identity at the country’s borders. The assignment of this project to Vision-Box is the successful result of the company’s application in the context of an open international tendering process mandated by Eurostar. This state-of-the-art solution, which uses facial recognition technology, is designed to be swift, secure and deliver a positive experience for the thousands of eligible passengers that make this journey on a daily basis. With an estimated 20% expected increase in traffic levels in the coming years (and over 26,000 passengers/day at borders between the peak late afternoon hours of 4pm and 7pm), Vision-Box’s eGates allow Eurostar to orchestrate its passenger management process with greater fluidity and mobility while maintaining a high level of border security. Since June 2016, more than 500,000 passengers have been able to use the self-service eGates, having benefited from a speedy and seamless experience.
Mikaël Lemarchand, Director of Stations at Eurostar, declared: “Eurostar’s mission is to deliver a memorable experience to our customers. At every single touch point of their journey with Eurostar, whether in business lounges, on board the brand new trains or at border controls in our terminals, the customers are offered delightfully easy solutions. That is why we selected Vision-Box to accompany us on this very innovative journey. Vision-Box share with Eurostar the same vision of what an amazing customer experience shall be. They rely on professional and passionate teams who were able to understand our specific needs and match the highly demanding requirements of our Ministry of Interior. The results of this close collaboration are now visible in London St. Pancras, with the Automated Border Control solution in place enhancing the daily experience of our customers. We are now planning the next chapter to deploy automated border controls throughout the Eurostar network, in Paris and Brussels.” Miguel Leitmann, CEO and Founder of Vision-Box, added: “Since the first day of our journey with Eurostar and the French Ministry of Interior, together in close relationship with the Border Police (DCPAF), we have been engaged in a enthusiastic, hard-working and intense multi-stakeholder partnership which materializes its apogee through the successful operation of a truly innovative passenger facilitation process at a landmark rail hub. The first statistics of usage are overwhelming in terms of adhesion and positive feedback of both travellers and Police officers. Once again, it is very much about creating a dynamic collaboration, facilitate multi-cultural understanding, and focus on the balance between two major aspects: the absolute need for higher security at the border, and a passenger-centric experience that serves the public interest to the benefit of our client. We are extremely proud to be part of this adventure, contributing to a safer world whilst improving everyday people’s lives.”
Rapid and reliable technology Concretely, Vision-Box’s vb i-match™ ABC eGates solution has been deployed at St Pancras International as part of a Private/Public innovative initiative between stakeholders, for use by all passengers from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland over 18 years old and holding a valid electronic Passport. The automated gate solution, 100% developed by Vision-Box, ensures an effective biometric verification based on facial recognition: a swift and reliable identity check can be carried out between the passenger at the border and the e-passport presented, through a comparison of the image taken by the biometric capture device installed on the ABC eGates against the photo stored in the passport chip. This is complementary to the traditional biographic background checks that the Border Police performs based on different national and international law enforcement databases. The gates function in a supervised, self-service mode, which can be overruled at any time by the Border Police officers in case a need to perform additional investigation work is clearly identified. The solution is therefore focused on increasing efficiency at the border, consequently eliminating any subjective aspects from the equation, thus improving the capability of the officers in their primary task of focusing at persons of interest. French Border Police supervises the process in real-time, thanks to Vision-Box’s vb inspector™ monitoring stations, part of the vb orchestra™ platform which operates in a highly secure and privacy-responsible framework.
Furthermore, the success of Vision-Box’s ABC eGates on today’s market is all the more significant as the European Commission looks to roll-out its Smart Borders Programme, which aims to further digitalize border security in Europe for third country nationals by enhancing the entry/exit control of the Schengen space whilst facilitating frequent trusted travellers movements, particularly by deploying sophisticated, yet proven, biometric technology (such as that proposed by Vision-Box) in order to make this process more reliable and convenient in order to better face increasing flow of passengers at the borders. French market expansion The Eurostar project allows Vision-Box to gain a market hold within France. Vision-Box intends to capitalize on this success in order to further expand on the French market by securing additional long-term partnerships in the transportation industry, delivering additional groundbreaking border control solutions to new prospects such as French airports. Additional deployments are planned in the course of this year on other Eurostar sites in France and Belgium. Vision-Box is also participating in a PARAFE II trial pilot, based on facial recognition, with Aéroports de Paris Group (ADP) at Terminal 2F of Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport. Since 2015, Vision-Box is supported by Keensight Capital, a strategic investor with the international scope necessary to match its global presence. Thanks to its sector expertise and its proven experience in growing profitable innovative companies, Keensight Capital is acting as a partner to help the company undertake each stage of its global growth.