Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Automated gates - a waste of money?

The Singapore Immigration invested a lot of money to install the automated gates to check the passports and fingerprints of travellers. For a few months now, it has also employed a security person to check the passport of the traveller passing through these gates.

This is probably a reaction after an incident last year where someone left Singapore on another person's passport. Is it necessary to take this additional measure, i.e. have a person to check the photograph, when the risk is quite small? The automated gate already employed a finger printing checking system.

Does this suggest that the money spend on the infrastructure and the technology of the passport check and automated gages is largely wasted?


  1. I have the same question for North East Line trains as well. If the trains are driverless, why is there a need to put an employee in every train?

  2. The employee in the NEL train can provide customer service, information on where to stop, and other useful services.

    We need to employ more people to provide service and information, so that life will be better for the commuters and the people at large.

    They should not be used for activities that do not add to the quality of life, such as unnecessary security checks, where the risk is small.

  3. Thanks Mr. Tan for your insight!

  4. If you have noticed, the train staff usually just tuck himself in the corner in the front of the train (or sometimes at the other end).

    I don't see how this can facilitate any customer service.

    Perhaps it would be nice to walk about through the cabins, albeit more slowly and carefully during peak hours due to the crowd, and say hello to fellow commuters while partrolling.

    With regular commuters maybe even learn to acknowledge them or even better, know their names.

    "Morning, Mr Tan. Good to see you again."

    I used to greet my feeder bus driver (captain, they call it these days) everyday on my way to work at my old place because it is always the same bus driver at that time shift.

    A little friendly gesture goes a long way.

  5. I've used both automated gates at Changi Airport and Woodlands Checkpoint. Quite OK, short queue, probably because most people don't know what it's all about. Anyway, there's always an officer there to assist and monitor. Anyway, I think it's a waste of money and doesn't save much time. Letting anyone pass through without physical visual by a human officer is a very high security risk. This type of machines may be usual in security areas in commercial or government buildings, but I don't think so for immigration clearance.

  6. To a determined and resourceful terrorist, there're ways to beat the machine, whether fingerprint scanning or even iris scanning. But of course, I can't share the details here.

  7. You make the point. Someone can mistakenly use someone else passport, but the automatic gate will also confirm your finger print.

    I also think the security guards there is a redundant.


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