Cairo Airport invests in biometric gates

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

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

Systems integrator Arinc has won the $22 million contract to build the IT infrastructure at the terminal, due to open in early 2008, which includes the country’s first e-gates, which will be built using technology from French communications equipment supplier Sagem and systems integrator Arinc at a cost of up to $5 million.

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 residents visas.

The e-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 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, Hamrouni claimed.

“The police will focus only on cases where there is difficultly with visas or with passports.”

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.”

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 internet protocol (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 turnaround 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 because 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.

Hamrouni said: “The public address should talk to the AODB, which should talk to the check-in, which in turn should talk to the flight information displays.

You have to understand the complex system.”

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