The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is building a 24-hour Integrated Services Centre in Singapore to “provide a convenient, one-stop service for members of the public.”
The centre will be housed in a new 10-storey building situated at the current carpark right next to the existing ICA headquarters.
It will begin construction works from January next year, and is expected to be ready by 2023.
At the new facility, Singaporeans can collect various documents from one place instead of visiting different departments, which is the current practice at ICA Services Centre.
Additionally, Singaporeans will be able to collect documents such as passports and identification cards easily without having to make prior appointments with an ICA officer.
The collection of such documents can be done within an estimated 15 minutes via self-service kiosks which use biometric technology.
A new system called iSMART will help store and deliver the documents using robotics.
It is not clear how many self-service kiosks will be installed, but to avoid any potential crowd, visitors can check out ICA’s website to access real-time crowd information.
Biometric Tech To Speed Up Immigration Processes
The existing immigration process will be overhauled to embrace a New Clearance Concept (NCC).
NCC will leverage biometrics and data analytics to speed up immigration processes at airports and checkpoints, and will be launched in 2022.
Under this initiative, the ICA will launch the Electronic Arrival Card (EAC) in the second half of this year.
Paper-based arrival cards will be phased out by 2021, and foreign visitors will have to submit their details online prior to arrival.
From September this year, airlines will also have to submit passenger information, such as passport and flight details, to the ICA to help in risk assessment and screening of travellers.
“Similar programmes have been implemented in many countries to combat terrorism and transnational crime,” said the ICA.
The ICA is also trialing a new contactless immigration clearance system at Tuas Checkpoint since last month.
The system identifies travelers through facial and iris biometrics without the need for thumbprints or passports, shortening the clearance process to under one minute.
This system will be extended to foreigners at a later stage.
“It is a powerful transformation, an exciting vision,” said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.
“I assume it is the first in the world, if not among the first in the world. It will transform the traveller’s experience at the checkpoints, and transform the ICA officer’s job as well.”
Featured Image Credit: Connected to India