UPDATE - Bulgaria launches biometric border security
28 February 2013 21:37 GMT

Opening of biometric gates at Sofia Airport

Sofia Airport in Bulgaria has just launched a set of automated border control gates using biometrics and ePassports to verify travelers' identities.

The system comprises four ImmSec immigration gates.

The facial recognition technology is provided by Cognitec, the document reader comes from Regula, fingerprint technology is provided by Atos of Bulgaria, the camera system for face capturing is MODI Adomo by Modi GmbH.

The ImmSec gates are provided by Gunnebo, and are a specifically designed double gate interlock solution. The design allows the ImmSec to be installed in single or multiple lane configurations. In this instance the four gates are positioned together - see photo.

The gate solution agreement was signed on 9 April 2012 for the implementation of four gates including face recognition and fingerprint biometric capture and document verification devices.

Atos Bulgaria is the system integrator of the solution, which includes the delivery of the immigration gates, biometrics and the required border management software.

Passenger biometric and biographic data is checked both in national databases and the Schengen Information System. 

To help pay for the systems, Bulgaria was provided with EU funds designated to protect "external borders".  In total it received BGN 476 795 (Euro244,000).

The Bulgarian Interior Ministry stressed that the implementation of the project is a demonstration of the country's commitment to join the Schengen area.

The system allows the passage of all adults holding biometric passports from the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland.

The system scans the traveler's ePassport before performing facial recognition and fingerprint comparisons.

Bulgarian officials hope the gates will significantly reduce the time required to screen passengers and help free up requirements on the country's border police (only one officer is required to supervise several electronic counters).

A trial of the system was operated on 30 June this year with 8,000 people successfully using the biometric system.

Additional information provided by Atos:

The system reads 1st and 2nd generation of documents but currently it is configured only to work with face data due to the lack of a PKI infrastructure within the Bulgarian border police. Even if the fingerprint is publicly available it would be currently ignored.

A current list of supported security features during the document read is:

  • Checksums from MRZ (expiry date, birth date, document number);
  • Date of expiry check;
  • BAC;
  • EAC Chip Authentication, EAC Terminal Authentication;
  • Chip Authentication (Passive and Active);
  • MRZ - DG1 comparisons (surnames, given names, document number, expiry and birth date);
  • B900 ink check;
  • UV luminosity paper check;
  • VIZ to MRZ comparison: some VIZ elements are OCRized and transliterated to be
  • "MRZ compliant" and than checked against actual MRZ (this was specific requirement from tender);
  • Document template matching (against Regula's document template database);

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