Final Call with Paul Mewett at Vancouver International Airport
Posted: 28 July 2015 | International Airport Review
Paul Mewett, Director of Innovative Travel Solutions (INV) at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), gives details on BorderXpress – the world’s first self-service border control solution that accepts all passports and doesn’t require pre-registration or fees.
BorderXpress was developed by INV, a business unit within YVR with more than eight years of experience in kiosk design, user experience, layout and flow analysis and continuous improvement for automating border control systems at airports.
How does BorderXpress work as an Automated Passport Control (APC) system?
With BorderXpress, travellers complete the administrative part of the border clearance process themselves using a self-service kiosk. They scan their passport, answer any government required questions on a touch-screen, have their photo and biometrics captured, and take their printed receipt to a border officer for a final check.
When developing BorderXpress, what were the main considerations for improving the operational efficiency and the passenger experience while ensuring the necessary level of security?
In 2008, the Vancouver Airport Authority team faced a costly expansion of its Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) facility in order to accommodate the increase in international travellers. Queuing times for entering Canada at the airport were becoming an increasingly large problem. Peak wait times up to 180 minutes plagued an otherwise pleasant airport experience at YVR. Rather than opting for a multi-million dollar expansion project that would only pose as a temporary solution, we set out to alleviate congestion in the customs hall and improve the overall airport experience for international travellers.
Following an in-depth analysis of passenger flow data and bottleneck points, we determined that the border clearance process was partially administrative in nature and therefore did not make the most efficient use of a border officers’ time. This led to the development and production of BorderXpress.
As approved initially by CBSA, the system was designed only for returning Canadian residents, but all foreign nationals benefited by virtue of shorter lines in the standard customs process. Within a few months of installing the kiosks at YVR, the airport met the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s target of processing 95% of arriving international passengers in 20 minutes or less. Both Toronto and Montreal airports have licensed YVR’s ABC solution with other Canadian airports coming on line as they receive approval from the government.
Encouraged by the success of the solution, YVR next collaborated with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to configure its BorderXpress solution for entry into the US, later called Automated Passport Control (APC) – we were the first-to-market with our solution in May 2013.
What are the key features of BorderXpress and what are the advantages of implementing it within a complete airport system?
BorderXpress kiosks are the world’s first no-registration, no-fee and no chip-enabled passport-required self-service border control solution. BorderXpress is also the only ‘plug and play’ solution available in the US market; this means that the kiosks can be up and running in as little as a couple of weeks. We also offer proven expertise and operations know-how, because the technology was built by an airport, for airports.
Where has the system been implemented and what improvements have been achieved so far?
BorderXpress is currently in use at 23 locations across North America and the Caribbean with more than 680 kiosks. We have helped over 46 million passengers clear the border quickly and safely.
Our research shows that the average overall customs wait time drops by 40-50% at our US airport locations, and passengers using BorderXpress clear the border about 89% faster than those using the traditional process.
Are there any plans to expand the use of BorderXpress and implement the system in new territories?
Yes, absolutely. We are currently working with CBP to expand the eligibility of APC to include travellers entering the United States with a US-issued Visa.
In addition, we are working closely with other countries to bring our solution to their main hub airports. Our BorderXpress solution can be configured to meet the needs of virtually any government in the world and can be used not only in airports, but other types of borders as well, as seen in our recent launch at Port Metro Vancouver’s cruise terminal.
As Director of Innovative Travel Solutions (INV) for the Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR), Paul Mewett works extensively with all levels of international governments and airport officials, where his efforts are aimed at simplifying the passenger experience, specifically within the border process. The INV team at YVR is an independent business unit focused on the development and commercialisation of its proprietary self-service border control technology known as BorderXpress. Paul is a Certified Member of the International Association of Airport Executives (I-AAE) and an active participant in numerous Industry Committees.