From October 2nd to 7th an estimated 1.98 million Muslim pilgrims observed Hajj by traveling to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is required of any Muslim both financially and physically capable of making the journey and is considered a showing of solidarity within the Muslim community, as well as an expression of one’s submission to God. The first recorded log of those making the pilgrimage was conducted in 1920, with 58,584 pilgrims attending. In 2013, approximately 2.061,600 observed Hajj. In this way, the pilgrimage reflects the leveling of the economic playing field for developing nations and the expansion of the religious community outside of the realm of city, state, and nation. Even accounting for Islam’s natural growth, this increase in participation is significant and is the result of both expanding access to affordable and convenient travel, and Saudi Arabia’s successful dissemination of relevant information to ready pilgrimage-able Muslims for the upcoming journey. The Hajj Permit introduced by Saudi Arabia this year limited the attending audience to one pilgrimage per five years in hopes to free up space and services for the attending guests. This paired with streamlined border security shortened the time pilgrims spend in line, and allowed easier but more secure access to religious sites and events.
At IDScan.net we saw a marked increase in passport reader sales from the period of July to September. Additionally, we worked with the Saudi Arabian embassy on deploying the 3M CR100 and Wizzforms software to further simplify and expedite the migration of pilgrims into Saudi Arabia. The solution integrated into the embassy’s platform, effectively pulling information from the passports’ MRZ code and populating in-house forms with the data. This process eliminated human error and simplified the data entry process to the swiping of a passport.
As Hajj attendance grows, Islamic nations’ travel agencies and border agents must implement more effective and secure solutions to process pilgrims quickly and safely. Travel documents have become more sophisticated and secure and a more sophisticated scanning solution is needed. The release of the 3M AT9000 MK2 is just that. The AT9000 scanner expands reading capability to newly-released biometric travel documents containing integrated chips such as EIDS and ePassports. The scanner also creates true color images of all processed documents allowing the user to create logs of every passport scanned. Through the addition of anti-glare technology which removes reflections from laminate during the scanning process, the AT9000 document reader improves upon its predecessors capabilities through increased reliability. With the inclusion of UV and IR imaging, the AT9000 also detects virtually all fraudulent IDs and passports. This paired with increasingly streamlined and efficient border control systems increased the pilgrims’ security while minimizing potential pitfalls on this year’s journey.