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Fingerprint, retina scans considered for border crossing security

09/18/2014 08:49 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:58 EDT
Canadian and U.S. security officials are considering new advanced technology features, such as fingerprinting and retina scanning, to improve the border crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.

Delegates to the U.S. and Canada Border Conference in Detroit learned how security will change once the new cross-border bridge is constructed between west Windsor and Detroit.

"First of all, we'd like to be able to have the infrastructure to share data across the bridge more quickly," said Mark Borkowski, who speaks for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "So there's some talk, in fact we've had discussions with the Michigan Department of Transportation — do we wire the bridge much the way you wire new houses now?"

Officials spoke of eliminating paperwork, and using mobile apps, self-serving booths and fingerprinting and retina scans as some of the options.

The goal is to make things easier on commercial truck drivers, said Rick Comerford of the Canada Border Services Agency.

"We talked about a green lane concept, so a rolling truck kind of concept," said Comerford. "It's not available today, but it will allow trusted traders to essentially bypass the current booths and proceed straight through the border."

One of the border-crossing systems already in use is the Nexus card. An extensive background check is needed for anyone who gets a card, which can get them through customs and across the border in about 20 seconds, compared to an average of about 45 to 75 seconds without a card.

Opposition to high-tech crossings

But not all travellers approve of new technology.

When it comes to fingerprint scans, Windsor resident Josh Lehoux has a problem.

"I probably would be against it, yeah," said Lehoux. "I don't see a reason why you need my fingerprint. I don't know if the technology [is] perfected yet either.

"The passport system, is there something wrong with the system now? I don't think so. It seems to be working out fine."

The new technology would come at a price, and while Canadian officials seemed more keen on the initiative, U.S. officials made it clear they don't have a budget for it.

The U.S. has yet to commit to paying for a $250-million U.S. customs plaza, the final piece of the new international crossing between Windsor and Detroit.

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