Penang Port scores a first with facial recognition tech


GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Port Commission (PPC) is beefing up security with state-of-the-art facial recognition technology at all entry points starting tomorrow.

Visitors, customers, vendors and forwarders will now be identified via biometrics technology at all six PPC facilities, five of them in the mainland – North Butterworth Container Terminal, Butterworth Wharves, Prai Wharves, Prai Bulk Cargo Terminal and Vegetable Oil Tanker Pier.

The Swettenham Pier is the sole facility on the island side.

PPC general manager Dr Vijayaindiaran R. Viswalingam (pic) told The Star that the transition was aimed at reducing congestion, improving logistics and increasing port efficiency.

He said new RM1mil facial recognition digital pass was believed to be the first of its kind installed in a port in Asia.

“By digitalising the application and authorisation of port passes, we can eliminate up to a million hours spent on the issuance of 100,000 port passes in the country.

“While many international ports have a digital pass, PPC is believed to be the first in Asia to introduce a facial recognition digital pass.

“We have stepped into the next level of port security, where everyone coming into contact with port personnel will be identified via facial recognition,” he said, adding that the new technology was launched recently by Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Jana Santhiran Muniayan at the PPC Maritime Ports and Logistics Fraternity Night 2023.

Vijayaindiaran said applications for digital port passes would be carried out online, from the processing and vetting to the approval process, before a QR code is issued to the applicant via their mobile phone.

The QR code can then be used when the applicant arrives at the gate for the first time to activate the facial recognition feature.

Vijayaindiaran said the move was a joint effort by PPC, port operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) and service provider Cargo Flow Sdn Bhd.

“With the technology, a centralised database can automatically produce background checks on applicants, cutting down the time needed to run lengthy manual background checks.

“The system will further enhance security standards by ensuring that only authorised personnel enter the port.

“Previously, pass cards were given to individuals who could enter the port using a QR code,” he added.

On the PPC Development Master Plan from 2023-2053, Vijayaindiaran said that it was in the final stages of completion and would be presented to the state for approval in early December.

“It is a 30-year roadmap for the future which explores the potential for PPC to expand its activity to generate volume in line with the National Transport Master Plan.

“The focus is on capacity building, infrastructure enhancement by going green, and digitalisation,” he said.

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