Border protection agencies are under increasing pressure to maintain the highest level of security in the face of growing threats, such as increasing illegal migration and terrorism. As such, agencies are embracing advanced border security technologies to aid in effectively and reliably securing borders.
These solutions look to detect and identify potential threats and prevent them from escalating to a point which may jeopardise a nation’s security. Traditional patrols and CCTV systems are no longer adequate forms of protection, and agencies must increasingly deploy innovative solutions to stay ahead of criminals and other potential threats to ensure the safety of a country’s borders.
There are many different forms of border security technology, each with their own unique benefits, drawbacks and use cases. This blog, therefore, will define a range of these technologies – ranging from stationary surveillance and control systems, to manned and unmanned vehicles.
eGates, also known as ABC (Automated Border Control) systems, are automated self‑service barriers which utilise data stored in chips of biometric passports, in conjunction with biometric recognition software, commonly facial or fingerprint, to verify a passport holder’s identity.
They are most commonly found at airports, however, they can also be used at seaports.
Following the successful verification of an individual’s identity, a physical barrier, such as a gate or turnstile, will open to allow passage. However, if a passport holder’s identity cannot be verified for any reason, the gate or turnstile will remain closed and an immigration officer will take over.
All eGate systems require a machine-readable ePassport, that contains an electronic chip that stores the biometric data of the passport holder. Some nations will only permit specific nationalities to use eGate systems, for example in Europe, eGate usage is typically offered to UK, EU, EEA (European Economic Area), and Swiss citizens. eGates are available in a range of different configurations, including a gate, kiosk, or mantrap kiosk, with the process for departing and arriving passengers being the same for each setup.
There are a wide range of security scanner systems in use at airports and ports to help maintain border security and prevent illicit substances or hazardous and dangerous materials from being carried through security.
At passenger airports, these include the use of X-ray scanners to check luggage for illicit items and full body scanners to detect and identify illicit substances and prohibited items on a passenger.
At cargo airports and ports, the types of scanners include radiation portal monitors, which scan cargo containers and vehicles to detect the presence of radioactive material. They also include traditional X-ray scanners, as well as more advanced solutions, such as human presence detectors.
Traditional human presence detectors, meanwhile, measure carbon dioxide levels to detect people breathing, whilst more advanced modern solutions use seismic detectors to pick up on the feint vibrations of human heartbeats to identify people.
There is a growing variety of camera systems being deployed by border protection agencies – an increasing number of which leverage AI to perform complex analysis on footage and automatically detect and identify potential security threats. This is most commonly seen with biometric cameras that leverage facial recognition software to detect or identify specific people or to verify a person’s identity.
In outside environments, EO (Electro-optical) and IR (Infrared) cameras are increasingly common, alongside other forms of thermal imaging camera systems. By combining these cameras, border agencies can gain comprehensive surveillance coverage during all weather conditions and throughout both day and night.
Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems
Perimeter intrusion detection systems can be used to create virtual borders or to help protect physical barriers such as fences or walls.
Using a combination of UGS (Underground Sensors), camera systems and other types of technologies (eg microwave intrusion detection systems), these solutions can alert border agents of activity near borders when people or vehicles get too close to a border cross over a predetermined point being monitored.
Radar systems are being increasingly leveraged in a variety of environments to assist with border protection efforts.
The most common form includes ground-based radar systems that are primarily used to protect land borders and scan for vehicles and individuals who may be trying to bypass security and enter a country through illegal means. There are also coastal radar systems, which are frequently deployed to help monitor coastlines and maritime borders or protect ports. These systems are designed to detect and track riverine and maritime vessels; alerting border agents to suspicious or illegal activities.
Radar systems are also frequently mounted onto aerostats, aircrafts, and maritime vessels to provide greater coverage of borders and better enable patrols to respond to potential threats.
They are also being increasingly integrated into surveillance towers, which combine radar systems and advanced camera systems to detect, identify and track potential security threats at both land and coastal borders.
Border security management often requires the mass use of land vehicles, including the likes of SUVs, trucks, sedans, and all-terrain vehicles, including motorcycles and snowmobiles.
Other means of land transportation are also available, including the use of horses for patrols in remote areas.
Airplanes and Rotary Aircrafts
Various types of aircrafts, including airplanes and rotary aircrafts, are used for the purposes of border security management.
One such example in use by many customs and border agencies is the Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.
Maritime and Riverine Vessels
Border security management can also require the use of manned maritime and riverine vessels.
These comprise everything from small boats for use in riverine environments to large maritime vessels, such as the UK’s HMC Protector.
UAV or UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems)
A growing number of countries are turning to the use of UAVs; ranging from nano drones to large UAVs.
One of the most famous UAVs in use for border patrol operations is the MQ-9 Predator drone designed by General Atomics. This system is currently in use by the US’ CPB (Customs and Border Protection) agency, who has nine in their fleet.
UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle)
UUVs and similar seagoing drones are being increasingly trailed by countries looking to further secure maritime borders.
UUVs include ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) and AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles). These vehicles can either be deployed for use in maritime environments or to further enhance port security.
One example of a UUV used for border patrol operations is the Bluefin-9, designed by General Dynamics.
UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle)
UGVs for use in border patrol are most commonly associated with ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) operations; enabling border protection agencies to detect and respond to illegal border crossings more readily.
One solution is the HOUND designed by Elbit Systems.
Our complimentary whitepaper, Border Security - More Important Than Ever, examines the state of the border security technologies market, considering the impact that growing threats, such as the illegal movement of people, are having in encouraging adoption of border security technologies.
"A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of the border security technology market will exceed $70 billion globally in 2027; rising from $48 billion in 2022. Growing 47% over the period, the new report predicts that the adoption of AI‑integrated technologies, such as advanced surveillance systems, will be a key driver. However, this adoption is causing controversy, with campaigners raising concerns over privacy issues."