Manager directs low-risk travellers to the fast lane
“As a traveller, I can identify with anything related to travel, so I ended up here,“ says Lisa Brommell, acting manager for NEXUS Outreach and Consultations at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Lisa spreads the word to Canadians about NEXUS, an innovative trusted-traveller program that is jointly run by the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Low-risk, pre-approved members can clear the border quickly and easily when they travel between Canada and the United States, whether by air, land or sea.
By fast-tracking these travellers through NEXUS, border services officers can focus their attention on passengers and goods that pose a high or unknown risk.
Very, very quick
Lisa explains how the process works. “Travellers have to go through a registration process. Both countries do a risk assessment on them.” To be eligible, she says, their backgrounds “have to be squeaky clean.”
If they pass that, they’re invited to an enrolment centre and they’re interviewed by both Canadian and U.S. officials. Once this process is complete, these new NEXUS members find that travel delays become a fading memory.
“When travelling by air, they can use a self-serve kiosk that employs iris biometrics to get through customs quickly and easily,” says Lisa. “The technology is able to confirm a member’s identity in the blink of an eye—literally. You just look into the camera and it identifies your iris—10 seconds, 20 seconds and you’re done.“
At 16 land border locations, NEXUS members use a special lane and their membership card to get faster clearance. “You still see an officer in the land mode, but it’s very, very quick.”
When travelling by sea, you can report to the CBSA by telephone in advance. Quite often you may not even be checked. “Border services officers may or may not meet your boat (NEXUS members are always subject to random inspections), but if they don’t, you’re free to enter the country.”
At present, NEXUS boasts more than 250,000 members and this number is rising; every week, about 2,000 people sign up.
Getting the NEXUS message out
“I’m proud to work on a program like NEXUS that facilitates the flow of low-risk travellers into Canada. We’re out promoting this program so that people on both sides of the border know what NEXUS has to offer.”
Lisa says the program grew out of smaller, less comprehensive initiatives to speed up border crossings.
“In B.C., it was originally called the Peace Arch Crossing Entry (PACE) program,“ says Lisa. “It was basically just a fast lane at one location. Then it became the CANPASS Highway, which was only into Canada. Then NEXUS was born.”
“We need to get the word out about NEXUS to as many people as we can.”
More fast lanes coming
Lisa travels across the country to promote the NEXUS program. She takes part in conferences and trade shows, and works closely with representatives from the regions, the U.S. government, transportation authorities, chambers of commerce, and travel and tourism associations. She also coordinates NEXUS communications products, such as brochures and promotional videos.
“NEXUS makes so much sense for every kind of traveller. This program holds so many benefits for Canadians; I’m excited to see where future technology will lead it. The possibilities are endless.”
But one thing is sure to happen, given a bit of time, she says. Programs like NEXUS will become more and more common around the world.
“There are already discussions internationally with other countries. Definitely, international expedited clearance is coming.”
Lisa has seen the evolution of the NEXUS program firsthand. She’s been with the CBSA for 15 years (when she joined, it was part of Revenue Canada) and has held several positions within the Major Projects and Systems Directorate. But it’s her current role as acting manager of NEXUS Outreach and Consultations that’s been the most rewarding.
“I love being a manager and I’m very fortunate to work with such a wonderful and energetic team. With such a diverse environment, I get to talk to so many groups of interesting people.”