The Smart Gate on Display at The Airport Show 2013 at the Trade Center Exhibition hall in Dubai. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: The smart e-gate system which went operational at Dubai International airport’s Terminal 3 from January 1 this year is being expanded with 14 new e-gates becoming operational in a month’s time, taking the number of smart e-gates to 28, according to emaratech, the company which has engineered and powered the project.

The new smart e-gate system and the technology behind it were demonstrated at the 13th Airport Show. Sunil Gulia, emaratech’s technical manager, said the smart e-gate system has already seen close to 70,000 passengers registering since it started, but the number of times the gate has been used is much higher due to frequent fliers.

Visitors to the Airport Show were able to explore the system, which allows travellers to clear immigration formalities in less than 24 seconds rather than queuing up at a normal counter, which can take up to an hour and a half. First-time users need to go to a counter after undergoing a facial and iris scan but afterwards travellers can simply go through the smart e-gate by using their passport, Emirates ID or UAE e-gate card.

Currently, there are 14 smart e-gates installed at Terminal 3’s Arrival Section while 14 more will soon be ready for operation in approximately a month’s time, he said. “We want to improve the performance and so there is a lot of monitoring going on right now. Once it is stable, we will think of implementing [smart e-gates] in the other terminals as well.”

He added that there are plans to add the system in the departure section of Terminal 3 as well, but only for the registration purposes. According to Gulia, the goal was to “eliminate the manual process.” Currently, there are two gates connected to one counter — which means instead of two officers, you only need one.

The smart e-gate is the first-of-its-kind of project in the world to use three biometrics — finger, iris and facial. According to Gulia, there is no other system in the world that uses all the three biometrics in a record time.

The smart e-gates don’t require travellers to undergo a prior registration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) as is needed by the older e-gates.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has earlier announced plans that smart e-gates will be installed in all Dubai International’s terminals by 2014, the year in which it will is expected to handle 75 million passengers annually. The airport is expected to see 98 million by 2020.

The smart e-gate can process 135 passengers per hour.