Bureau of Immigration eyes using AI for departure, arrival processes

Jeffrey Hernaez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2023 06:24 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2023 10:59 PM

Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Departing passengers queue before the immigration counters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City on July 4, 2023. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) -- The Bureau of Immigration is looking at the possibility of using artificial intelligence in processing documents of passengers coming in and out of the country.

According to Immigration Commissioner Atty. Norman Tansingco, this is to catch up with the technology being used in other countries like Canada, Singapore and Dubai.

“For example sa Canada, in Vancouver, wala na pong immigration sa departure. So from check-in counter, diretso na po ang pasahero sa boarding gate, but they are strict on the arrivals. We have recent technologies na the passenger will no longer pass through the check-in counter, everything is on cyberspace already, lahat naka online,” he said.

Tangsingco explained AI can be used in automated processing of biometric information gathered by immigration or border control authorities.

"So pagdating ng pasahero sa airport, alam na natin kung papalabasin ba ito o hindi, papapasukin ba o hindi," he added.

According to Tansingco, the agency would not remove its employees, especially those who might be affected by the use of AI.

"Nandiyan pa rin siya, pero lesser numbers na kasi sa ganoong technology, automated technology, wala na yung stamp sa passport. Mayroong iba yung may gustong souvenir, magpapa-stamp pa rin just like Singapore, Canada, iyong gusto ng may stamp, nandiyan pa rin sila," he said.

He also said the use of AI can also address corruption issues in the airports.

"Lesser na yung interaction between the passenger and immigration officer so lesser na ang chance or opportunity for corruption, wala ng discretion," Tansingco said.

According to BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval, the plan to use AI would make facial recognition easier for the immigration officials.

"On the security part, we look at parang automatic detection of faces, detection of movement, of travel patterns, kasi masasala na po 'yan ng ating system through AI technology," she told Teleradyo Serbisyo on Wednesday night.

She also said AI cannot replace the work of BI personnel, but it can help lessen the workload of the employees.

It can also provide an added layer of protection as it can easily detect whether a person is allowed to enter the country or not.

Sandoval said they are currently still looking for suppliers that can provide the technology they need.

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For technology editor Art Samaniego, it is about time to use AI in the airports.

"It’s about time na gamitin ang technology na ito para mapabilis yung process natin. Iyong AI kasi, mas efficient siya, mas mabilis at mas secure kumpara sa tao. Ang AI hindi siya nagdi-discriminate kung ano ang hitsura ng tao, pero puwede niyang i-detect iyong behavior ng tao. Ginagamit na ito sa ibang bansa kung saan puwedeng ma-detect ang behavior ng tao at screening ng documents kung authentic ba iyon o hindi," he said.

He, however, also warned of the possible issues with the use of AI.

"Dapat bantayan natin ito. Dapat tiyakin natin na hindi biased yung AI, dapat ang AI mas secure siya at dapat mas efficient siya. Ang AI kasi combination siya ng algorithm plus data, so pag ang data mo kulang kulang, sobra, o mali yung data na nilagay mo sa isang tao, magiging biased ang screening," Samaniego added.


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