MWAA hosts biometrics information session for aviation industry leaders

MWAA hosts biometrics information session for aviation industry leaders

Nearly 70 executives from airports, airlines and other aviation-related businesses and government agencies gathered last month at Washington Dulles International Airport for an information session and live demonstration of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s newly developed veriScan facial recognition technology.

The veriScan system streamlines passenger verification and boarding on outbound international flights and fulfills congressionally mandated biometric exit requirements for international flights from the United States. The technology was developed by the Airports Authority’s Office of Technology.

Using proprietary software loaded on a portable tablet, veriScan encrypts and sends high-resolution photos of passengers boarding international flights to the U.S. Customs Traveler Verification Service for nearly instant identity verification. When integrated with airline boarding systems, veriScan streamlines and expedites the boarding process by eliminating the need for boarding passes.

“We created veriScan in-house to securely, expeditiously and economically solve the biometric exit challenge at our own airports and to improve the journey of our passengers,” explained Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter. “It’s an airport solution designed by an airport, with direct input from the aviation community. Already, we have seen improvements in boarding speed and simplicity as airlines have begun using the system for international flights.”

MWAA’s CIO Goutam Kundu shared background on the origins of the Airport Authority’s MWAA Labs innovation team, while a panel of security experts from United Airlines, JetBlue and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport shared their experiences with using veriScan and other biometric technology for passenger processing.

“The Airport’s Authority’s innovation products, including veriScan, were created to fill a void in the aviation market,” said Kundu. “As an industry, we need high value, low cost solutions that address the requirements of a quickly shifting aviation landscape. What we found was that commercial solutions being offered in the market didn’t fit these criteria, so we developed our own solutions for our airports. These solutions worked so well, that we realized that we could become the community partner that could fill that gap.”

Since the MWAA began using veriScan to process passengers on international flights leaving Dulles International and Reagan National airports in July 2018, a number of other airports and airlines have begun using the technology. According to the announcement, veriScan’s functionality has been piloted in four airports with 27 airlines on 420 flights, processing more than 61,000 passengers with a successful first-time verification rate of more than 98.5 percent.

Several airlines at Dulles International, including United Airlines, Air France-KLM, Scandinavian Airlines, Emirates and Cathay Pacific now use the biometric technology to expedite passenger verification on departing international flights. At Reagan National, JetBlue uses the system to expedite passenger boarding on their international flights to Nassau, Bahamas.

MWAA’s IT team and veriScan will be featured as a finalist in the 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Showcase awards event this month in Austin, Texas.

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