iBorderCtrl (Intelligent Portable Control System) is an innovative project that aims to enable faster and thorough border control for third country nationals crossing the land borders of EU Member States (MS), with technologies that adopt the future development of the Schengen Border Management.  iBorderCtrl includes software and hardware technologies ranging from portable readers and scanners, various emerging and novel subsystems for automatic controls, highly reliable wireless networking for mobile controls, and secure backend storage and processing. One of the main goals of the project is to design and implement a comprehensive system that adopts mobility concepts and consists of a two-stage-procedure, designed to reduce cost and time spent per traveller at the border crossing station. iBorderCtrl also focuses on the land border crossing points: road, walkway, train stations. It addresses the better facilitation of thorough checking required for third country nationals that intend to cross EU borders.

iBorderCtrl objectives

The main objective is to enable faster and thorough border control for third country nationals crossing the land borders of EU Member States (MS), with technologies that adopt the future development of the Schengen Border Management. iBorderCtrl provides a unified solution with aim to speed up the border crossing at the EU external borders and at the same time enhance the security and confidence regarding border control checks by bringing together many state of the art technologies (hardware and software) ranging from biometric verification, automated deception detection, document authentication and risk assessment. iBorderCtrl designs and implements a comprehensive system that adopts mobility concepts and consists of a two-stage-procedure, designed to reduce cost and time spent per traveller at the land border crossing points: road, walkway, train stations.

Continuous traffic growth, combined with the increased threat of illegal immigration, is putting nowadays border agencies under considerable pressure. Slow border crossings impact traveller satisfaction, business and trade. According to the Cockfield Report in 1980, the estimated income from abolishing controls on internal borders gave a rise as much as 2.5% of the annual GDP of the Member States. Calculating with figures from 2011, this means 232 billion EUR annually. A smaller, but still considerable rise in the EU GDP can be achieved through better facilitating border checks – and so, commercial traffic – at external borders. At the same time as making the border clearance process as streamlined as possible, the authorities need to make checkpoints safe and secure but also consider the limitations coming from human resources. Border checks become increasingly more challenging due to increased international trade, more complex supply chains and more sophisticated criminal activity. They also need to do all this at lower cost.

iBorderCtrl focuses on the land border crossing points: road, walkway, train stations. It addresses the better facilitation of thorough checking required for third country nationals that intend to cross EU borders. To this respect, iBorderCtrl specific objectives are:

  • To significantly increase the efficiency in terms of traveller throughput at the border as well as security in terms of significantly fewer successful illegal crossings;
  • To achieve greater comfort, reduced time at the border by utilising the portable traveller devices and portable units;
  • To utilize pre-registration step as a means to better inform travellers of their rights, the procedures they will have to go through for their travel, the data collected and how they are analysed as per EU and national legal requirements and to obtain, were necessary, an informed consent from the traveller. 
  • To reduce the subjective control and workload of human agents and to increase the objective control with automated means that are non-invasive and do not add to the time the traveller has to spend at the border;
  • To create of a fifth tier for the four-tier access control model of the Integrated Border Management System involving bona fide travellers, especially regular travellers into a Schengen-wide frequent traveller programme including a reward system based on number of successful crossings and trouble-free stay.

Compliance with EC standards

iBorderCtrl is not only compliant but already demonstrates many of the features planned to be included in the Entry/ Exit (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation (ETIAS) Systems both proposed by the European Commission to enhance the border control check procedures. Moreover, iBorderCtrl solution paves the way towards the interoperability of EU systems for security, border and migration management as envisaged by the EC. iBorderCtrl aims to enhance the four-tier concept of the Integrated Border Management System involving bona fide and regular travellers.

Legal and ethical framework

Travellers’ legal rights and ethical issues are addressed both at the European as well at the relevant national levels when collecting, storing and processing relevant data through the iBorderCtrl legal framework. It is underlined that the participation in is not compulsory, it works on a voluntarily basis, offering ease of control for travellers willing to cooperate with authorities to speed up the border control.

As the hardware and software systems under development in the iBorderCtrl project are not yet authorized law enforcement systems, national legislative authorization of data process is not applicable, an Informed consent is required to involve test participants and to process their data. This shall be signed by all participant before interacting with the system. The pre-registration system and the portable control device will both ask to declare informed consent by the user before starting use of the system. Regardless of already given an informed consent, participants may opt-out any time. Volunteer participants shall not be subject of any negative treatment or discrimination because of opting out. Use of iBorderCtrl system or participation in the tests may not function as replacement of real Schengen border checks. In case the participant is really crossing the border, real border checks must be carried out independently from the participation in the iBorderCtrl tests and participants shall be treated as any other person crossing the border. Negative or positive discrimination based on test participation is strictly prohibited. The test may not interfere with or result in any impact on real border checks. After participation of each test activity, participants will be asked to provide feedback on the system, which is in a form of a survey.

Current Phase of development

iBorderCtrl complete two-stage solution is currently under lab testing and all individual components and the system as a whole is being tested. In the upcoming period, the actual commencement of piloting deployment will start with approximately nine months duration (end in August 2019) in Hungarian, Greek and Latvian land borders (multiple iterations of testing and validation will be performed). Specific border crossing points have been selected for this purpose where the integrated iBorderCtrl prototype and the overall platform will be tested on real time. A large full scale evaluation will take place where apart from the technical performance the usability along with the wider user experience features will be examined.