Philadelphia Airport starts biometric exit screening project

Philadelphia Airport starts biometric exit screening project

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is rolling out on January 21 a 45-day biometric screening trial project at three international gates to verify travelers’ identity by capturing and matching facial scans with federal records, and optimize departing passengers’ processing times by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the organization announced.

As per federal law, CBP is authorized to deploy biometric exit screening for foreign nationals, except for Canadian citizens and diplomatic and government visa holders. CBP intends to install facial image capturing equipment for people both entering and exiting the country.

“We are excited to welcome this new technology to the airport,” said PHL Airport CEO Chellie Cameron. “Working with our partners at CBP and our airlines will ensure our continued dedication to safety and security.”

The pilot will test three biometric systems from veriScan, NEC and Sita at gates A15, A16 and A17 for select outbound international flights on Qatar, British Airways, Lufthansa and American Airlines.

A recent Sita report found that 68 percent of travelers will be “digital travelers,” and 60 percent say they’re willing to interact with airport services through their mobile phones. More than half of airlines in China are planning to use biometrics to drive a secure and seamless passenger experience throughout the airport within three years, Sita says.

NEC recently launched a dedicated website to demonstrate its technologies for modernizing air travel. The new NEC Aviation site provides an interactive birds-eye-view picture of an airport detailing ten different contact points and transaction types, and how they are affected by technology. The site also shows a cycle of a dozen ways face recognition is changing travel experiences and includes several explanatory videos, links to recent news, the company blog, and white papers.

VeriScan biometric identification software has been used for over a year at Washington Dulles International Airport and has allegedly surpassed 1 million outbound international passengers processed.

“Travelers who do not wish to participate in this facial comparison process may notify a CBP Officer or an airline or airport representative in order to seek an alternative means of verifying their identities and documents,” CBP said.

Once the identity verification process has been completed, photos of U.S. citizens are deleted within 12 hours. The biometric identification process involves a device, such as a tablet or an iPad, installed at onboarding kiosks. When the passenger approaches the biometric scanner, facial recognition technology will capture their facial image and run it in the database. If matched, the passenger is clear to pass through.

To improve the screening process, the pilot will also test digital instruction signs provided by Synectecmedia ReadySeeGo. The digital signage totems will show multimedia, bilingual content to inform passengers about the biometric cameras and explain how to use them.

By May 1, an analysis will be conducted to decide which technology was most successful. Installing the system across the entire airport could be finalized in a year.

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