Every day, around $2.5 billion in trade commodities and 400,000 travelers traverse the United States/Canada border. In an effort to make border-crossing process more efficient and secure, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced that radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has become fully operational at specific land ports of entry (POEs).
RFID technology involves the wireless non-contact use of radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data for automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects, without extracting (or storing) someone’s personal information. RFID-enabled lanes use a special reader to capture RFID tag numbers in select travel documents like electronic Canadian Permanent Resident cards, Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (from British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario), Enhanced Identification Cards (from Manitoba and British Columbia), and NEXUS/FAST cards. Despite their specific function, it’s worth noting RFID-enabled lanes can be used by all travelers, regardless of whether they have the detectable documentation on them or not.
“Adding radio frequency identification technology to the CBSA’s suite of tools will help streamline traveler processing and improve border security measures,” says Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. “It is yet another way in which we making use of technology to help border services officers ensure the border is efficient and secure.”
The RFID reader will detect the tag number of RFID-enabled documents as a traveler’s vehicle approaches the booth. The RFID tag number will then retrieve traveler information from secure databases, determine any risk, and portray information on the border service officer’s screen. This technology makes time more efficient by eliminating any need for manual entry of a traveler’s information.
A pair of normal traveler lanes were equipped with RFID technology at POEs in British Columbia (Douglas, Pacific Highway, and Aldergrove), Manitoba (Emerson), and Ontario (Lansdowne, Ambassador Bridge, Peace Bridge, Queenston Bridge, Rainbow Bridge).
These upgrades to Canada’s border infrastructure will make its busiest POEs more efficient by easing traffic flow and wait times, while subtly improving security measures without imposing any overly compromising policies or practices. In the not-too-distant future, the CBSA will reportedly be able to read specific RFID-enabled travel documents from the United States, bringing Canada up to speed with technology already being utilized by their southern neighbors.