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Facial recognition arriving in Seattle and Delhi airports, Iberia mobile app, Sita talks biometric data sharing



Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will join the ranks of Biometric Exit points under U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) traveller facial verification program by the end of 2019, reports The Seattle Times.

Delta Airlines passengers departing international flights from Sea-Tac will be able to board without presenting a passport or boarding pass with facial recognition, and CBP also plans to launch Biometric Entry checks at the airport on the opening of its new international arrivals terminal in July 2020.

The Port of Seattle Commission, meanwhile, is expected to hold a hearing into adopt safeguards for biometric implementations on December 10. The Commission does not have jurisdiction over CBP, but plans to communicate the principles it has adopted so far in the process to the agency. The Commission could also take on oversight of the program at Sea-Tac, according to The Times.

Congressional Representative for Seattle Pramila Jayapal has called facial recognition “invasive, unregulated, and inaccurate” and called for the federal government to limit its use.

A recent pilot project at Sea-Tac found that boarding with facial recognition alone was slower than with the combination of biometrics and boarding passes, and documents obtained through a public disclosure process show two airlines halted the pilot project with complaints that facial verification was making the boarding process slower.

Port Commission President Stephanie Bowman told The Times that if the technology “is not faster and more efficient, there’s no reason to do it.”

Commissioners have also stated that efforts by CBP to inform travellers of their option to use a different method of identity verification are inadequate.

Iberia facial recognition app

Airline Iberia is piloting a new app which enables passengers to identify themselves with facial biometrics with their mobile devices, rather than queuing at a specific location, Business Traveller reports.

A “brief selfie video” and photo ID check with the app create a biometric profile, which is shared with and stored by the airport operator’s database. After registering their boarding pass with the biometric profile, they can check in online, and use facial biometrics to pass through security and boarding checks at specified gates. The ID presented must be a third-generation Spanish National Identity Document. European passport holders can also register facial biometrics at self-service kiosks in the check-in area.

The app is only available to Android devices, but an Apple release is planned.

The trial will run for 6 to 12 months, for passengers flying to Asturias or Brussels from the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4.

Airport operator Aena says the project is part of its “Airport 4.0” strategy, and is its second facial recognition test project, according to AirlineRGS.

Delhi Airport to launch paperless boarding

Facial recognition will also enable paperless boarding at Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi) Terminal 3 under the Digi Yatra scheme, starting in the winter of 2020, according to The Logical Indian.

Passengers registered with Digi Yatra can provide their account number, and the airport will add data from Digi Yatra to the airline’s booking information. Passengers flying on Vistara will have access to the service on its launch, and it will be rolled out to all domestic flights from the terminal by the end of next year.

The airport operator, Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL), has also conducted a trial to use facial biometrics for international flights, and deployment is now awaiting approval.

SITA bullish on prospects

If passengers are informed of what data is captured, how long it will be stored for, and what it will be used for, they are happy to consent to biometric screening, Sita President for Asia-Pacific Sumesh Patel tells FlightGlobal in an interview.

Patel says the company’s Smart Path airport solution has reduced boarding times for some airlines at airports in Boston and Miami already, and that while biometric checks are not mandatory, passengers face longer waits if they opt for legacy identity verification processes.

Patel also notes Sita’s testing of a system for sharing flight information through blockchain in a sandbox project with Geneva Airport, London Heathrow Airport, and British Airways.

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