MIAMI — A mobile passport app developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) is now in operation at Miami International Airport. The app, created by Airside Mobile and in operation at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, allows passengers arriving in the U.S. to enter and submit their passport and customs declaration information, bypassing paper forms.
CBP has been innovative in coming up with efforts to help passengers get through Customs quickly with programs like Global Entry and passport kiosks, said Hans Miller, CEO of Airside Mobile, which created the app. “We wanted to come up with a solution that would address security and privacy issues, and this is a good one,” he said.
CBP and ACI-NA worked together to decide which airports should test the app, said Miller. “But obviously, you have to have a strong field staff at Customs and the airport to start,” he said. “It also has to be an airport where all the stakeholders are ready to take the app on. There were plenty of airports that we could have considered.”
Miller declined to give out traveler use numbers or downloads. “But I will say that among the 20,000-plus travel apps in iTunes, our app got as high as number 31 on the top apps list,” he said. “And the app is consistently in the top 100 travel apps.”
Atlanta has a strong program that lets them process passengers much more quickly, and think Miami can accomplish that goal too, said Miller. “What’s nice about the mobile passport app for airports is there’s not much required in physical infrastructure or space, it’s inexpensive to install and easy to run because most of the equipment is in people’s phones,” he said.
Airside Mobile worked with CBP to develop extremely strong security protocols, said Miller. “The standards we used in the app are standards that have been developed and defined by the U.S. government in the past 10 years,” he said. “CBP keeps track of who enters the country. We do not have access to the information entered into the app because it’s stored in the phone, not our database.”
Earlier this month, the White House, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security announced a plan to modernize and improve the arrivals experience at more airports across the country, including allowing more airports to use the mobile passport app. CBP has committed to expand the program to the 20 airports with the highest volumes of international travelers by the end of 2016. The app will be rolled out at three more airports in the next few months, Miller added.