UKBA gives up on £9 million IRIS automated border control

automated border control e-gates
biometric automated border control e-gates will replace the IRIS system

The UK’s Border Agency is having a bit of a hard time ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

It has confirmed it is scrapping the Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS).

And UKBA is to be split in two after an official inquiry report found that poor communication, poor oversight and confusion among ministers and senior officials lay at the heart of last summer’s border checks fiasco.

The IRIS gates have been deactivated at Birmingham and Manchester airports, but are expected to stay in use at Gatwick and Heathrow airports until after the Olympics. IRIS is currently available at: Heathrow terminals one, three, four and five, and Gatwick North.

The system had come in for criticism from users who complained that it sometimes had problems recognising them. Others said that joining regular passport queues was sometimes quicker than going through the fast-track iris gates.

In reality it has been overtaken by newer, more reliable and easier to use technology.

The automated border control eGates now in use at 15 UK airport terminals for Border Control use facial recognition technology to compare faces of UK and EEA passengers to images held in their biometric passports in addition to biographical and security checks.

Crucially the automated border control e-gates can be used by much larger numbers of passengers and eventually will be usable by non-EU passengers.