CBP plans 2018 biometric exit roll out

U.S. Customs and Border Protection are working to implement its facial recognition-based biometric exit program at the top 20 airports across the country by February 2018, according to a report by GCN.

“It will depend on what airports modernize and their willingness to work with us — with individual airlines having a role in it too,” Michael Hardin, deputy director of CBP’s Entry/Exit Transformation Office said last week at the AFCEA Federal Identity Forum. “We see ‘fully functioning’ as getting to the majority of flights at the top 20 airports.”

Hardin said the CBP is interested in securing more partnerships like its deal with JetBlue, which allows passengers exiting the country to authenticate their identity by having their photo captured at a camera kiosk instead of being issued a boarding pass.

The images are then sent to CBP for an authentication process that takes “two seconds with a good degree of accuracy,” Hardin said.

He added that the agency is able to gain access to the airline manifest with 200 to 500 passengers with a “high 90 percentage” success rate in regards to photo availability and matching.

In mid-June, Jet Blue rolled out its paperless boarding process at Logan International Airport in Boston, while Delta began a similar facial recognition-based system at John F. Kennedy in New York.

CBP’s initial demonstrations also included Washington Dulles, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, William P. Hobby in Houston, Chicago O’Hare and McCarran in Las Vegas.

The border control pilot programs will essentially eliminate the boarding pass, which is one of the biggest “friction points” in the boarding process. Hardin said the benefit is what makes airlines also interested in the technology.

With the top 20 airports participating in the facial recognition program, CBP will be able to track 97 percent of all passengers from international flights, according to Hardin.

“Smaller airports could have a handheld device for fingerprints that could substitute for a flown-blown system since they only have a few [international] flights a day,” Hardin said.

CBP is also biometrically identifying people crossing the border by land from Mexico and Canada, and will begin two facial recognition pilots in Arizona in December to authenticate pedestrians who frequently cross between the U.S. and Mexico borders.

“These pilots are meant for people that we see every day, and we will try on-the-move and stationary environments to see how it can work,” Hardin said.

The agency said it is also working to form a process with Mexico to share data on border crossings.

“With Canada, we have an existing our-entry-is-your-exit process, so we can each flip the data and those become the exits for each country,” Hardin said. “The Mexico process isn’t as comprehensive, but we are working to share the data that [we both] collect for entries and exits.”

Last month, the CBP rolled out facial recognition-based biometric exit technology at Houston’s William P. Hobby International and at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.

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