New face biometrics implementations announced at airports on three continents

New face biometrics implementations announced at airports on three continents

The pace of facial recognition implementations at airport begins 2021 much the same as in 2020, with SITA and Gunnebo announcing new implementations, Pakistan working on biometric boarding, and advice from Deloitte and Idemia on a pair of contemporary issues in the field. The U.S. and Qatar have reached an agreement to share biometric data for border security, as well.

SITA has created a new and improved entry and exit system based on biometrics for the Crew Briefing Center (CBC) at Abu Dhabi Airport, in collaboration with partner Etihad Airways, according to a company blog post.

The company was challenged to help the airline reduce line-ups and speed up the check-in process for crew with a low-touch process powered by facial recognition technology to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread. The customer wanted to integrate a ‘biometrics on-the-go’ capability based on crews’ smartphones, and enable automated flight roster retrieval and roll call using face biometrics.

The BYOD requirements of the project prompted SITA to develop an iPhone app for crew check-ins.

“Etihad is constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions that will drive improvements in the airline’s operations and enhance the experience for guests and employees,” comments Etihad Aviation Group Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi. “We believe that facial recognition technology has the potential to enhance the efficiency and security of airline operations and are happy to be partners with SITA in this trial.”

The project is a proof of concept running through February, 2021, but SITA hopes to deliver a broader industry solution to address the widely-acknowledged challenge of crew and passenger safety amid the pandemic.

Gunnebo biometric gates installed for pilot at Brazil airport

Electronic gates from Gunnebo with face biometrics are being piloted for automated passenger boarding at Salvador Airport in Brazil’s Bahai State, the company announced in its own blog post.

The “Embarque + Seguro” (translated as safer boarding) pilot was designed by the Ministry of Infrastructure’s Civil Aviation Secretariat (SAC) in partnership with Serpro, and approved in December.

“With our technology, the procedure is 100 percent automatic without any human intervention. The authentication, in turn, is performed by the Serpro base, which validates or not the passenger data”, says Marcelo Andrade, product development manager at Gunnebo Brazil. Andrade says the biometric solution addresses health concerns, brings enhanced agility and security to operations, and provides passenger traceability. The solution is also intended to reduce passenger queueing time.

Gunnebo plans to implement its facial recognition in some of Brazil’s other main airports, including Brasília and Galeão airports.

Pakistan begins rolling out biometric boarding

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is planning to install automated biometric gates at major airports across the country, Geo News reports.

In the first phase, airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are expected to reduce boarding queues by verifying passenger identity with facial recognition and fingerprint biometrics, and scans of their tickets and passports through a self-service process.

Advice on fitting biometrics into stretched airport budgets

Putting biometrics and other technologies in place amid the budget constraints imposed by the pandemic will require finding alternative funding sources, according to an editorial by Jack Applebaum, a manager a Deloitte Consulting for Passenger Terminal Today.

Applebaum has some specific suggestions, including making use of four different partnership models; value-based collaborations, joint investments or partnerships, sponsorships and branding, and asset monetization. He also advises airports to build their technology roadmap, create a financing plan, and identify partners to help them implement the plan.

Idemia sees opportunity to limit impact of new EU-EES rules with biometrics

A post by Idemia to International Airport Review suggests the impact of the new EU-EES rules for Third Country Nationals can be limited through biometrics and automation solution.

Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data can be pre-processed, and travellers can handle scanning of travel documents, capturing biometrics and answering simple questions by themselves, with border guards freed to focus on important decision-making processes and investigating suspicious cases.

Extending the automated border control gates with biometrics capabilities that are already widely deployed in Europe for citizens of the Schengen Area could make implementing these technologies relatively easy, the company writes.

US DHS signs deal with Qatar to share biometric information

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar’s Ministry of Interior on enhancing border security cooperation through biometrics and associated data sharing.

The agreement will enable an exchange of information under the EBSA (Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002), and establish policies and processes for sharing the data in compliance with the laws of both countries, human rights obligations, and UN Security Council Resolution 2396, according to the announcement.

Acting Secretary Wolf thanked the Amir of Qatar and government officials and suggested the arrangement represents an “exemplary collaboration with DHS in a variety of crucial mission areas, including information sharing, aviation security, border security, and cybersecurity.”

“This is the latest in a series of agreements signed with Qatar that enhances our already strong bilateral partnership by ensuring the sharing of biometric information in an automated system,” Acting Secretary Wolf added in the press release. “The EBSA MOC is a further step by Qatar to address statutory requirements of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).”

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