Canada Place Cruise Terminal in Vancouver Implements Facial Biometric Technology

Canada Place launches biometric scanning

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to introduce facial biometric technology for passengers embarking on cruises at the Canada Place terminal.

According to a press release, the Port of Vancouver is the first seaport in Canada to introduce the technology for Canadian and U.S. passengers boarding cruise ships.

The facial biometric scanning system is set to enhance passenger experience, terminal efficiency, and border security, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said.

“We’re excited to partner with U.S. authorities to implement this state-of-the-art passenger processing technology—which will help us provide a fast, secure, and convenient experience for passengers embarking on a cruise,” said Peter Xotta, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

“Our ongoing partnerships with government and industry are crucial to enhancing the award-winning Canada Place cruise terminal and ensuring it can continue to meet growing demand while enhancing the experience of passengers. We want to thank the CBP for working with us to implement facial biometric processing—a Canadian-first innovation for a cruise terminal that will support a more efficient and secure border verification process,” he added.

According to the port authority, the facial biometric technology will fully automate manual document identity verification checks for those boarding a cruise that require admission into the U.S., such as trips to Alaska.

Passengers will have a photo taken as part of the cruise ship boarding process at Canada Place, which will be compared to the photo from their pre-trip travel documentation within seconds.

“CBP and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority are excited to announce a new identity verification process incorporating facial biometrics that offers a secure, touchless experience at embarkation for cruise passengers,” said Diane Sabatino, acting executive assistant commissioner, office of field operations, at CBP.

“This is another example of the value and impact of innovation through public-private partnerships that will enable CBP to reallocate resources to maximize border security while enhancing the overall passenger experience,” she added.

The Canada Place facial biometric program has been customized for the terminal’s operational needs, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority said, and includes support to open loop pre-inspection for passengers boarding in a Canadian marine environment who will travel on to destinations in the U.S.

The new program replaces the previous automatic passport kiosks introduced in 2015 for Canadian and U.S. travelers.

The technology supporting the new program was provided by Pangiam, a BigBear.ai company, and was developed in close collaboration with CBP and the port authority.

“BigBear.ai is proud to engage with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and CBP for yet another deployment of its secure biometrics,” said Kevin McAleenan, president of BigBear.ai and former acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former commissioner of the CBP.

The new facial biometric program will be operated with support from SSA Marine, which provides operational management at the Canada Place cruise terminal on the port authority’s behalf.

“This innovative system promises to streamline and elevate the passenger experience, offering enhanced convenience and efficiency for travelers visiting the terminal while maintaining the integrity of border security,” said Elise Ferguson, general manager – Vancouver at SSA Marine.

According to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, anyone who wishes to opt out of the facial biometric process may notify a Canada Place cruise terminal representative as they enter the primary inspection point and will instead be required to present valid travel documents for a manual inspection.

Similar facial biometric technology currently operates at 20 U.S. cruise terminals for passenger debarkation upon return to the U.S.

Canada Place is the first cruise terminal where facial biometric technology is being performed on embarkation.

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