WTTC and Sita encourage collaboration for unified biometric travel as systems expand

WTTC and Sita encourage collaboration for unified biometric travel as systems expand

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) wants to bring the sector together to develop a single biometric identifier for use at all points in a traveler’s journey, as part of a system combining biometrics and blockchain technologies.

Travel and tourism infrastructure is “creaking at the seams,” the WTTC says in an update of its priorities, particularly in aviation, yet geopolitical instability requires more stringent security checks.

The system WTTC is advocating for would be technologically agnostic and internationally interoperable, increase security for governments, build capacity with efficiencies, link all travel and tourism services, and be trusted by passengers.

The WTTC recently reached a collaboration agreement with the World Economic Forum to promote biometric travel.

The system is envisioned as a means for travelers to avoid repeatedly showing travel documents, and instead would enable various processes and transactions, including booking transportation, crossing borders, boarding aircraft, and checking in and out of hotels, by confirming identity and booking data.

The WTTC also believes adopting this approach will create jobs by encouraging growth in the industry.

High match rates and video facial recognition while ‘on the move’ are an integral part of the frictionless, high-capacity biometric border system that will be necessary to process twice as many airport passengers by 2037, according to IATA statistics, Sita ATS Senior Portfolio Manager for the Border Management Portfolio Nesan Jegasothy writes in a blog post.

The company’s Passenger IT Insights surveys show that the percentage of passengers reporting stress is inversely proportional to the degree of automation in each touchpoint, with highly-automated booking processes considered least stressful, and security checks, which are least automated, according to Sita, causing stress for the most passengers (36 percent).

The ICAO’s Digital Travel Credential (DTC) initiative can help this situation by assuring governments of the trustworthiness of biometric and biographic data received from passenger’s mobile devices. Meanwhile, full journeys must be considered, as Jegasothy points out that customer feedback indicates the low adoption rates of Registered Traveler Programs are influenced in part by faster border processing only meaning longer waits for baggage claims.

Governments should review paper-based processes and consider regulatory and policy changes to enable controls to be digitized for deeper insights, according to the post, and will likely want to work with partners who understand the environment and integrations involved.

To reduce the need to address each specific cohort of passengers, Jegasothy calls for a Global Passenger Data & Identity Management Trust Framework, which can ensure stakeholders that the data they receive is verified and of high quality.

Airport IT & Security 2019

Best practice case studies on biometrics will be featured as part of the Airport IT & Security 2019 conference, presented by International Airport Review.

The conference will be attended by 400 aviation industry stakeholders from 79 countries, and feature more than 50 expert speakers, plus technologies from 23 sponsors and exhibitors.

“Digitalization is continuing to affect all aspects of airport operations, and with technologies still evolving, airport IT and security are two sectors within our industry that must quickly adapt if the airport is to be kept safe and the passenger happy,” comments International Airport Review Editor Tara Nolan, as reported by travel industry publication eTurboNews. “I am thoroughly looking forward to witnessing our collection of industry-leading figures deliberate airport IT and security, this is a great opportunity for all to share best practice, learn of new solutions, network with professionals and safeguard airports for the future.”

The event takes place in London, September 25 and 26.

Emirates approved for biometric boarding by CBP

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has approved Emirates Airlines for biometric boarding, enabling travellers flying from Dubai to 12 U.S. destinations will be able to use the airlines’ two-second facial recognition checks for voluntary automated flight boarding, Gulf News reports. No pre-registration is required for the service.

Emirates uses a combination of facial and iris recognition to verify passenger identities. Under the CBP program, all biometric records will be stored by the agency, not the airline, according to the report.

In summer pilots carried out on flights from Dubai to New York and Los Angeles, encouraging results included some flights achieving 100 percent biometric boarding with no manual checks, Gulf News reports. The airline expects to deploy equipment to roll out the service for all U.S. destinations it serves by the end of the year.

“Our ultimate aim is to help our passengers travel paperless, without the need for passports and IDs. Biometric boarding is one more step in streamlining processes at our hub using digital technology,” Emirates Security Group Divisional Senior Vice President Dr. Abdullah Al Hashimi comments.

China Eastern launches facial recognition check-in

China Eastern Airlines is planning to launch facial recognition for all airport processes from ticket purchase to boarding at Beijing Daxing International Airport, in what Yicai Global reports will be the world’s first passport-free facial biometric check-in offering.

Staff will use augmented reality glasses to verify the identity of passengers on domestic flights with facial recognition, leveraging a system powered by 5G, according to the report. Check-in can be performed at kiosks, or via the airline’s mobile app. The app can also be used with electronic luggage tags for passengers to track their bags.

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