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CBP rolls out biometric exit technology at Miami International Airport


U.S. Customs and Border Protection has deployed facial recognition-based biometric exit technology at Miami International Airport (MIA) for a select outbound flight.

The deployment builds upon a June 2016 facial recognition pilot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Using the flight manifest, CBP builds a flight specific photo gallery using photographs from the travel document the traveler provided to the airline. CBP then compares the live photo against the document photo in the gallery to ensure the traveler is the true bearer of the document. If the photo captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. passport, the traveler — having been confirmed as a U.S. citizen — is automatically determined to be out of scope for biometric exit purposes and the photo is discarded after a short period of time.

“Through our consultations with the airlines and airport stakeholders, and based on the success of several pilots, CBP determined that facial recognition was a viable exit solution,” explained John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations. “With the expansion of this technology we will be looking at different flights, airports, lighting conditions, and internal IT configurations to demonstrate to our stakeholders that this solution is flexible, reliable and easy for travelers to use.”

In September it was announced that CBP is working to have the technical capability to support biometric exit at the top 20 U.S. airports by early next year.

“It will depend on what airports modernize and their willingness to work with us — with individual airlines having a role in it too,” said Michael Hardin, deputy director of CBP’s Entry/Exit Transformation Office 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.

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 biometric exit pilot locations have included Washington Dulles, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, William P. Hobby in Houston, Chicago O’Hare and McCarran in Las Vegas.

Earlier this month, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that airlines should not be responsible for paying for the new biometric exit program.

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