Airport Authority Hong Kong investing in biometrics and big data to improve efficiency

Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) will be investing in several technologies including biometrics and big data at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to improve efficiency across the airport, according to a report by Future Travel Experience.

Andy Bien, chief information officer of AAHK, said that he and his team are focusing on biometrics projects.

“First of all, we want to trial eGates, following the IATA seamless travel initiative,” Bien said. “We’re studying the use of the face as a token to go through the airport, as some other major airports are doing.”

The use of biometrics could allow passengers to enrol for their biometric single token, use their face to verify their identity at each touch-point (check-in, bag drop, security, immigration, boarding, etc.), and purchase products and services using facial recognition technology.

Meanwhile, upgrading the CCTV system with digital technology will enable the airport to benefit from image processing capabilities.

“Both the seamless travel project and the passenger engagement initiatives on the retail side have some kind of image recognition or personal identification need,” Bien said. “Rather than being implemented as siloed systems, each of these initiatives could be based on a single platform and work in tandem.

“One of the major challenges we’ve seen in the past is that established suppliers have vertical solutions for each one of these needs. What we need now is a horizontal solution serving multiple purposes.”

Bien said these systems will be slowly introduced in the next few years. He also noted that closer partnerships within the industry could be a key factor in achieving a more horizontal approach to biometrics integration.

“We talk about collaboratively reinventing the airport experience or the way we manage airports, but we are not alone in having this challenge,” Bien said. “A lot of the start-ups we work with don’t worry so much about holding on to their own IP and holding back.

“They focus more on using open source and open data, and this is where we really can differentiate two mindsets. One is more protective and one is more transparent. Just holding on to your own secret weapon might have worked in the past, but the future is about collaboration.”

Although it is unclear how long it will take industry suppliers to fully adopt collaboration to benefit the industry at large, the upgrading of Hong Kong International Airport will continue regardless.

In a recent guest post, Nora Blomefield of Gemalto discussed how the arrival of biometrics is radically transforming the passenger experience in airports.

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