Photo: Arizona-Mexico Border Now Has Interviewing Kiosks for "Trusted Travelers"
Using something known as anomaly-detection, interviewing kiosks may soon take the place of in-person preliminary interviews along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Thanks to Aaron Elkins, his colleagues at the University of Arizona, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a virtual officer kiosk has been placed at the Nogales, Arizona border for those in the Trusted Traveler program.
Elkins and his team worked for years developing the technology to allow people in the program to “speak” with the kiosk as if it were a CBP officers.
Those allowed in the fast-track Trusted Traveler lanes have already been through background checks against criminal, law-enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist databases. Each “trusted traveler” has also gone through CBP interviews and biometric fingerprint checks. If all have checked out, the travelers crossing borders can streamline their process by using the kiosks during future travels.
The kiosks are not left independent devices, as they are monitored by CBP officers.
Some have already called into question the kiosks effectiveness, as it is up to the kiosks’ speech recognition and voice anomaly-detection software to indentify questionable responses by monitoring However, it should be noted that the kiosk interaction is only a preliminary interview. After passing through the kiosk, travelers still speak with a CBP officer.
Elkins notes that the kiosk is not designed to indicate whether a traveler is lying or to diagnose their intent, but rather analyze their voice. Should the kiosk’s software pick up an anomaly in a traveler’s voice during specific questions, the officers are prompted to ask additional questions to probe deeper into that particular response.
The kiosks can communicate in both English and Spanish and are also able to ask an interviewee to repeat an answer.
There is the potential false positives to consider – an interviewee may become nervous, not understand the question, or simply not know how to answer – though that is what the second interview is for.
Elkins and his team are still working to improve the function and effectiveness of the kiosks. The Scientific American:
The researchers are hoping this second phase of the Nogales pilot test will include more than 1,000 interviews. After the kiosk’s performance is analyzed, Elkins would like to add a feature that lets interviewees scan their passports and other documents into the device. Another option might be to equip the kiosk with some other sensors—such as video analyzers, eye trackers and thermal or infrared cameras—that could offer additional means of analyzing interviewees.