U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking to both expand facial recognition capabilities in its vetting of international travelers and migrate its traveler-processing technology to the cloud, according to an Aug. 8 CBP solicitation.

CBP said in the document that it wants to shift its traveler-vetting system from primarily using biographic data to focusing on biometric data. Specifically, CBP said the new system would ideally identify travelers biometrically based on information CBP already has instead of having travelers present their travel documents.

“A biometric-based approach allows threats to be pushed-out further beyond our borders before travelers arrive to the U.S.,” CBP states. “The elimination of token-based searches as well as the identification of other simplifications of the inspection process will allow for CBP Officers to engage with and focus more on the traveling public. Integration of facial recognition technologies is intended throughout all passenger applications.”

Ramping up facial recognition and biometric data capabilities at CBP are part of the modernization effort of CBP’s systems – which the agency also noted has a goal of completely migrating to the cloud by 2024. The solicitation highlighted that transitioning its Traveler Processing and Vetting Software (TPVS) to the cloud is key to this effort.

“As infrastructure and applications are modernized and migrated to and operated in the cloud, TPVS applications must continue to meet or exceed their system performance (measured in response time, availability, and scalability) prior to the modernization and/or migration effort,” CBP said.

Other modernization efforts the agency underscored include wanting to “transition frontline officers from static booths to a dynamic and agile operation allowing officers to admit or refer travelers using mobile technology with a single touchpoint” and to expand “use of public-facing self-service web-based and native mobile applications by travelers in all stages of the travel process.”

Although CBP did not indicate a deadline for proposals to the biometric data solution that would match the agency’s modernization goals, the solicitation says CBP anticipates to begin the contract in January 2020 and to run it through as late as 2025.

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