A key initiative of Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Information Technology is to migrate its infrastructure and applications to a cloud computing environment by 2024, part of a modernization effort to prepare the agency for new ways of doing business, CBP says in a recent notice.

Earlier this month, CBP issued a Request for Information (RFI) related to a forthcoming competition to acquire “the full range of life cycle services” for its Traveler Processing and Vetting Software (TPVS) applications and related equipment.

“The future of CBP relies on modern technology,” the agency says in the Aug. 8 RFI. “To be successful, officers and agents need tailored, intuitive, and advanced capabilities to anticipate and combat emerging threats. CBP’s operational environment requires its technology to be innovative, mobile, resilient, available, reliable, and scalable.”

Cloud migration and new technologies are among the enablers to this future environment, CBP says. More widespread use of biometrics is another key enabler for meeting future missions, it also said.

CBP has been using fingerprint-based checks since the mid-2000s on arriving international visitors to the U.S. and is beginning to transition to face recognition systems to verify the identities of inbound and outbound travelers, including U.S. citizens.

A CBP official tells HSR the use of cloud computing, biometrics and other technologies allows for the agency to implement its vision for transforming the entry and exit processes for traveling into and from the U.S. That vision is a transition away from token-based identity solutions such as boarding passes to facial image recognition, making it more convenient for travelers while enhancing security.

“Integration of facial recognition technologies is intended throughout all passenger applications,” the RFI says.

Currently, CBP and its airport and airline stakeholders have deployed facial recognition systems at 22 locations under the Biometric Exit effort.

The RFI describes CBP’s vision for a future environment for inspecting travelers that allows its officers to “focus on purpose, intent, and behavior, while maintaining situational awareness rather than concentrating on administrative procedures.” Technology can help accomplish this, it says.

“The paradigm will evolve from biographic data focused to biometric data centric,” CBP said. “CBP will identify travelers biometrically based on information already in CBP holdings as an alternative to having the traveler present their travel document. A biometric-based approach allows threats to be pushed-out further beyond our borders before travelers arrive to the U.S. The elimination of token-based searches as well as the identification of other simplifications of the inspection process will allow for CBP will allow for CBP officers to engage with and focus more on the traveling public.”

Biometrics, mobile systems and advanced information technology capabilities are expected to allow CBP’s frontline officers to move from their fixed inspection booths to a more dynamic operating environment, allowing them to focus on travelers while creating more efficient screening processes for travelers to expedite processing.

The Transportation Security Administration is evaluating facial recognition systems for use at airport checkpoints. In TSA’s potential operating concept, face recognition replaces the need for travelers to present their photo-based government identity credentials.

Edge computing, automation and artificial intelligence are other key technologies that CBP’s IT office expects to harness to fulfill the agency’s future vision.

CBP later this year plans a single-award Blanket Purchase Agreement for its TPVS needs. The contract would have a base-year, beginning in Jan. 2020, and four one-year options, according to draft plans accompanying the RFI.