Accenture to develop new border security app for Canada

02 March 2018 3 min. read

The federal government of Canada has hired Accenture to develop a new border security application. Upon its test launch, the digital program will allow ‘known travelers’ to pass between the countries of Canada and the Netherlands more quickly, using their mobile devices.

According to the World Economic Forum, international traveler arrivals are expected to increase from 1.2 billion in 2016 to 1.8 billion by 2030. The rise in volume will increase risk and security requirements for the aviation and travel and tourism sectors.

Increases in international travel have already put numerous industries under pressure to meet skyrocketing levels of demand. Most notably, surging demand has seen the global commercial aviation space project to grow its fleet by more than 10,000 planes over the next decade. However, growing levels of cross-border travel are forcing immigration authorities to explore new strategies for expediting border security protocol.

The Known Traveler Digital Identity – announced at the Davos World Economic Forum in January – is a joint venture between the governments of Canada and the Netherlands, and will be pilot-tested on travelers moving between the two countries. Similar to other trusted-traveler programs like Nexus – which allows people quicker movement between Canada and the US – the Known Traveler Digital Identity program will ask travelers for detailed personal information for pre-screening, including university degrees, bank statements, and vaccination records.

Accenture helps Canadian government with new border security app.psd

The new pilot program gets ‘trusted travelers’ through border checks more quickly in exchange for a digital profile filled with their personal information – including biometrics like retina and facial recognition – located on their mobile devices. In addition to providing additional personal information before travelling, user profiles would also be automatically updated as they fly around the globe. The more borders they cross without incident, the more ‘trusted’ the traveler’s profile becomes.

The app is planned to get a wider global rollout in 2020. To ensure that the project meets the end-of-decade deadline, global technology and consulting firm Accenture has been enlisted to help develop the program.

With the imminent arrival of GDPR looming over global businesses, Accenture has stated that user information will be properly safeguarded. The system will utilize blockchain, leveraging the technology’s encryption and decentralization to ensure privacy and security. The consultancy also confirmed that users will be able to decide which parties they wish to share their information with, and when, on a case-by-case basis.

In a statement to CBC News, the Accenture said, "No personal information is stored on the ledger itself, ensuring that personal information is not consolidated in one system, which would make it a high value target for subversion.”

The ID scheme will theoretically reduce wait times at the airport security and controls, and making the traveler’s overall experience more efficient. In the new system, passengers would only be required to scan their smartphone – presenting their biometric, biographic, and personal data, securely stored in a blockchain-based ID. Critics, however, are concerned that the new app will create a two-tier system, with those unable or unwilling to purchase a capable smartphone and system membership – the US-Canadian Nexus traveler program costs $50 per 5 years – receiving lower levels of service.