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Airport biometrics predications, deployments, upgrades and plans for future services

Airport biometrics predications, deployments, upgrades and plans for future services

Biometrics is one of Future Travel Experience’s “12 technology trends for airlines and airports to focus on in 2020,” having been mentioned each of the last few years.

Facial recognition will show up in more mobile apps for airlines this year, the publication expects, though it also notes the challenges and misconceptions around privacy and security issues, standardization, and legacy infrastructure.

FTE Global 2020 will be held on September 1 and 2, and will again include a dedicated biometrics summit with case studies and lessons with first movers.

AI and machine learning, wearables and voice technology, and 5G are also among the technologies expected to have a big impact on the aviation industry for the year ahead.

The growing number of tech-savvy travellers will have the biggest impact on the industry’s digital plans from now to 2025, according to a SITA report, via Fin24.

The shift provides African airports with an opportunity to leapfrog some technology implementations and move straight to seamless end-to-end experiences leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones. Sita’s report shows 68 percent of travellers will be “digital travellers,” and 60 percent say they’re willing to interact with airport services through their mobile phones.

“Expect big growth in passenger terms in Africa and one of key requirements to accommodate this growth would be the need for more automation at the airports and in passenger processing to absorb the load. A lot of collaboration between stakeholders would also be required,” Sita Airline & Airport Portfolio Vice President Sébastien Fabre told Fin24.

Fabre also says that regional government support will help facilitate the processing of passenger identity data.

Fin24 also notes that Sita is a founding steward of the Sovrin Foundation, an international non-profit private sector organization dedicated to enabling self-sovereign digital identity, and that Sita is investing heavily to develop a framework for access to data by different stakeholders.

“For us it is about collaboration and we are investing a lot in this,” says Fabre. “Collaborating in Africa can be a great enabler. So we need to find a way to absorb the air traffic growth in an efficient manner and that will be great enabler for the continent.”

Airports planning upgrades

Orlando International Airport is planning to expand its biometric technology use for boarding international departures, after experiencing its highest ever traffic in 2019, with a 6.73 percent increase in passengers from 2018 to more than 50 million, based on a 12-month rolling total taken in October.

The number of TSA screening areas will also be expanded to improve passenger convenience.

Idemia recently hosted a webinar with International Airport Review on meeting passenger processing and security challenges with biometrics. The company’s biometric end-to-end traveller identity management and flow facilitation program ID2Travel was introduced by Idemia’s Product and Solution Director for Passenger Flow Facilitation Franck Maurin. MFace facial recognition hardware and OneLook iris recognition hardware enable passengers to be identified nearly instantly without having to show travel credentials.

Managing the data these systems used in compliance with regulations such as GDPR, however, is a point of sensitivity, and Idemia says the answer for the industry is to make technology adapt to people, rather than the other way around.

Skopje Airport in Macedonia has launched a pair of eGates from Turkey’s BioAffix for pre-security checks, EX-YU Aviation News reports. BioAffix is a family of biometric single sign-on (SSO) and identity verification products, and the deployment is intended to automate boarding pass checks to grant access to passport control and security areas.

Clear biometrics are being planned for launch at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which the city had recently considered leasing to private operators, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The company will pay Lambert $66,000 a year plus 10 percent of the fees paid by residents from the city’s metro area and more than 40 counties in Missouri and Illinois. The system is already used at 34 airports around the U.S.

The three-year contract awaits approval from the city Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The airport has also been attempting to add more international flights, which surely will mean more biometric deployments.

TSA spokesperson Jim Gregory says how the October 1 requirement of a REAL ID card for flight boarding will affect the Clear process is yet to be determined.

Pune Airport is planning to deploy e-gates and with biometric facial recognition from NEC at the airport entrance, security holding area, and boarding gate area in April for travellers registered with the Digi Yatra service, according to The Times of India.

Body scanners will also be deployed to the airport. Pune Airport Director Ajay Kumar told TOI that both projects are “high-priority.”

Police in Thailand have praised the country’s new airport biometric systems at a series of specially convened media conferences, The Thaiger reports.

A high-level disagreement over the need for the system is seen as the reason for Thailand’s former immigration bureau head being mysteriously sidelined last year, according to the article.

Police Lieutenant General Surachat Hakparn, meanwhile, has said that the biometric system is not efficient and the contract process was opaque.

“The biometrics system helps lift the nation’s immigration office to an international level, Pol.Lt.Gen Surachet should not bring in the biometrics system into his own personal conflicts,” replied Major General Surapong Chaijan of the Immigration Police. “Officials from other government sectors have evaluated whether the biometrics system really works. Confirmations show that the system is efficient.”

According to officials, 48 million passengers have already had their biometrics scanned with the system, with more than 4,300 wanted people arrested, nearly 127,000 visa overstays identified, and millions levied in fines.

Airline plans

Emirates Airline is planning to expand its use of biometrics and big data to improve travellers’ pre-flight experience from curb to bag drop “straight the way through to the aircraft,” Executive Traveller reports.

Emirates President Sir Tim Clark tells the publication the airline plans on “clustering all sorts of things in the online world” as part of a holistic approach to customizing passenger experiences.

“I’m fairly excited about the application of biometrics in airports so that the airport of the future will be hassle-free for people travelling,” Clark tells Executive Traveller. “You won’t have check-in, you won’t have central search, you won’t have a hindrance at gates.”

At CES 2020, Delta Air Lines joined the technology companies sharing their projects, and a representative delivered a keynote speech on its plans for future services and enhancing passenger’s on-ground experiences with offerings including biometrics and free Wi-Fi, Airways Mag reports.

The airline is planning a “Parallel Reality” project in collaboration with Misapplied Sciences, which leverages biometrics to provide a customized guidance experience for passengers. The project, in which a screen will provide entirely personalized messages such as directions to travelers, will be tested later this year at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport with approximately 100 passengers.

Delta is also planning to make the journey to the airport easier, with a “digital concierge” and a partnership with Lyft.

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