What is the Apex Air Entry and Exit Re-Engineering project?
03 July 2014 21:54 GMT

Integration of biometrics in US Exit will be investigated

Q:     What is the Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-Engineering (AEER) project?

A: The Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-Engineering (AEER) project is a collaborative partnership between Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The program was created to assist CBP in increasing its capacity to screen travelers entering the U.S. and to biometrically confirm the departure of certain foreign travelers from the United States.  This overall process is commonly referred to as Entry/Exit.

Q: How are DHS S&T and CBP working together on the AEER project?

A: The Apex AEER project is a highly collaborative effort supported by a multi-disciplinary team comprised of subject matter experts from the fields of technology, engineering, policy, federal law enforcement and several scientific disciplines. During this Apex project, participants will work as a single integrated team to facilitate organization-wide coordination and maintain open communication. Day to day management of the project will be done by the two Apex AEER Co-Leads, the DHS S&T Apex Director and the CBP Entry/Exit Transformation Office (EXT) Director.

Q: What are the goals of the Apex AEER project?

A: 1) Identify opportunities to introduce process efficiencies and enhance existing airport operations for screening travelers entering the United States; 2) Define and develop recommended approaches for cost-effective and integrated biometric exit capability; 3) Increase CBP’s ability to analyze and articulate the expected operational and economic impacts of changes in processes, technologies, and staffing required to perform traveler screening operations; and 4) inform future CBP acquisition programs.

Q: Why re-engineer air entry and air exit operations?

A: The Apex AEER project is working to re-engineer both air entry and air exit operations in order to: 1) increase the capacity to screen travelers entering the United States to meet the increasing traveler volumes (i.e., 4%-5% annual growth) and to minimize traveler wait times; and 2) to identify a cost-effective biometric exit solution for implementation to meet the congressional mandate for biometric exit.

Q: What are some of the challenges to implementing a biometric exit capability?

A: Biometric Exit is required by U.S. law.  However, U.S. international airports and land border facilities were not originally designed for exit control. The nation’s airports are privately owned and were not designed or built to control departures of foreign nationals from the United States, so there is no federal inspection area for outbound travelers.  CBP is carefully considering how best to introduce biometric exit into existing port infrastructure. Any change to the processes must be implemented in a manner that balances the need for greater security while not impacting travel or trade. 

Q: What is the Maryland Test Facility?

A: The Maryland Test Facility (MdTF) is a controlled environment for laboratory and scenario-based testing to evaluate candidate approaches, biometric technologies and other operational processes under simulated airport entry and exit conditions. To accurately evaluate the performance of biometric devices in operational environments, the facility houses several operational airport settings.  This includes a variety of biometric implementations, such as a Federal Inspection Station entry booth and gate departure area.

Designed to contain three customizable bays of testing space – approximately 10,000 square feet – the   facility totals more than 25,000 square feet of combined office, observation, and testing space.  Each bay is capable of housing any of the notional biometric air exit concepts of operation for evaluation, as well as accommodating up to 50 test subjects concurrently. Additionally, apart from the testing space, this facility contains extensive observation methodology, allowing for the capture of both audio and visual data required for analysis.

Q: How will the studies be conducted?

A: The Apex AEER Project will utilize three phases of evaluation to determine the best performing technology capabilities for integration into current airport entry and exit processes:  laboratory testing, scenario-based testing and field trial testing.