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Airport biometrics trials expand on three continents



Trials of new biometric systems are launching and continuing at several airports around the world, as airports and airlines seek to increase automation to speed up identification processes.

SITA Smart Path has been deployed for a trial of using facial recognition instead of a boarding pass for security processing at Athens International Airport, the company announced. The airport, Greece’s largest, is the first in Europe to use biometric identity at security, according to the announcement.

“Passengers really appreciate the ease of using SITA’s Smart Path trial,” says Alexandros Ziomas, acting director of Athens International Airport’s IT&T Business Unit. “It has reduced the time taken to check in and verify passenger identity at security to only a few seconds. It will solve a key challenge for us by ensuring a steady flow of passengers to the security area. This is a service we would like to extend to other steps in the journey over time.”

The biometric service is being offered to Aegean Airlines passengers, and because Smart Path can be tailored to specific airport or airline requirements, could also be extended to other airlines operating out of Athens in the future.

“As most airports around the world already have self-service infrastructure in place, installing Smart Path is cost-effective and easy to implement,” comments SITA President for Europe Sergio Colella. “Yet, the improvement to security and the passenger experience is tremendously positive. It explains the growing interest in this solution from both airlines and airports in Europe and around the world.”

Palm vein biometrics deployed to 14 Korean airports

The Korea Airports Corporation has deployed Fujitsu’s biometric palm vein authentication system to all 14 domestic airports under its jurisdiction. The system began operation on December 28, 2018, and has been used more than a million times by 160,000 individuals with registered palm vein patterns.

Passenger identity is confirmed with biometrics instead of the citizen ID card which was previously required. The automated process both improves the accuracy of identification and significantly shortens the time taken for the process, according to the announcement.

Facial recognition-powered customer service kiosks reach Chinese airports

Chinese technology expert Matthew Brennan has filmed a kiosk as it identified him with facial biometrics, provided flight plan information, and offered him directions to his gate, Fast Company reports.

Fast Company suggests that the system represents a warning about the potential of facial recognition and collection of personal data for abuse, and says the Chinese government can clearly identify citizens anywhere with the technology.

Panasonic recently demonstrated similar technology as part of its One ID biometric airport solution.

JFK facial recognition trial to expand

The facial recognition technology deployed to a boarding gate at JFK’s terminal 5 for JetBlue passengers in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reducing the amount of time necessary for passengers to move through the airport while increasing security, according to Collins Aerospace VP of Global Airport Systems Christopher Forrest.

The trial was launched in November, and may soon be expanded to include either self-service baggage drop or an end-to-end system powered by facial biometrics, based on previous comments by Forrest.

Collins Aerospace says in the trial announcement that its SelfPass system is uniquely scalable and hardware-independent, enabling airports and airlines to add biometric capabilities to various touchpoints.

“The innovative use of biometrics for customer processing is driving the aviation industry forward and aligns with IATA’s One ID concept,” said Ian Deason, senior vice president of customer experience for JetBlue. “By working together with Collins Aerospace, we’re bringing JetBlue customers a personal, helpful and simple experience each time they fly.”

SelfPass trials at Bristol and Dublin airports

Collins Aerospace also announced today that its SelfPass airport biometric solution is now being trialed at Bristol Airport and Dublin Airport, enabling passengers to use a single biometric enrollment in multiple countries.

Bristol Airport offers passengers multiple biometric checkpoints, making the process easy from check-in to boarding. When SelfPass rolls out in Dublin next month, passengers will be the first to be able to take advantage of the multi-country solution.

“Dublin and Bristol Airports are changing the way passengers travel and making the process easier and more efficient,” explains Forrest. “For example, it takes less than one second to capture and process a passenger’s facial image and eliminates the need to repeatedly present travel documents. We see this as another leap forward for our biometric technology to play a key role in making the connected aviation ecosystem a reality.”

At Bristol, the new trial will biometrically enable multiple touchpoints, including: check-in, self-bag drop, security and boarding gates and the initial trial will be extended to include website and mobile enrollment, and lounge access.

“The passenger growth at Bristol Airport is increasing, and we are looking at using technology like the Collins Aerospace biometric solution set to help make our airport a high-quality experience for our customers,” said Graeme Gamble, chief operating officer for Bristol Airport. “The cooperation of Collins and the Bristol Airport team is making Bristol a leader in Airport innovation and customer service.”

“We are really pleased to be an early adopter of this new technology designed to further enhance the experience for both our passengers and our airline customers at Dublin Airport,” added Frances O’Brien, vice president of PMO for daa. “We are delighted with the progress of the trial so far and look forward to extending the offering to a wider audience, including those travelling to the U.S. in the coming months.”

Early results of LAX trial

The facial recognition system from Gemalto deployed for a trial of American Airlines passengers’ CBP checks at Los Angeles Airport has been largely successful through its first 90 days, airport-technology.com reports.

Gemalto VP of Mobile Financial Solutions Amol Deshmukh says the exceptions to the trial’s success involve specific cases such as toddlers, who may not match even relatively recent passport images.

In a recent Department of Homeland Services biometric testing rally, Gemalto’s system successfully acquired images in less than five seconds for 99 percent of subjects, compared to an average of 65 percent, according to the report.

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