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FacePhi, SITA and Collins each roll out facial recognition to airports on different continents

2016 test by Canadian government revealed
FacePhi, SITA and Collins each roll out facial recognition to airports on different continents

FacePhi, SITA and Collins Aerospace are all supplying face biometrics to aviation sector customers in new deployments. Meanwhile in Canada, an old government deployment at the country’s largest airport has been discovered, alarming some, despite a survey showing most Canadians are comfortable, at least in principle, with airport biometrics.

Quiet Canadian facial recognition trial revealed

The Canadian government surreptitiously tested facial recognition on millions of travelers at Pearson International Airport just outside Toronto in 2016, according to a report by the Globe and Mail.

The test involved 31 cameras matching face biometrics against a database of 5,000 people the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) suspected may commit identity fraud to enter the country. If a possible match was detected, an officer would be alerted to pull the individual aside for a secondary inspection. The cameras were located in 14 different areas, according to documentation provided by Ottawa-based contractor Face4 Systems, and returned 47 hits.

CBSA says no individual was removed based on the pilot, and later clarified that facial recognition would not be used as the sole indicator for any border decision. The pilot was carried out according to agency policy, CBSA says.

The CBSA’s privacy impact assessment sets out the procedure, and explains that signage informing travelers was not posted in order to avoid inaccurate information and affecting the pilot’s results. A vague summary was posted to the CBSA website instead. The PIA was submitted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and all data was deleted at the conclusion of the project, according to a CBSA spokesperson.

Face4 Systems CEO Robert Bell told the Globe and Mail that several organizations have run similar tests, but none are currently operational.

The Globe and Mail interviews a pair of academics, who express concern about the imbalance of power at border crossings and potential differences in facial recognition among different demographics.

A recent survey from GetApp shows that 74 percent of Canadians are “very” or “somewhat comfortable” with the use of facial recognition for passport control, the highest of any application.

Smaller majorities are comfortable with facial recognition for building access (64 percent) and police surveillance (62 percent), but even less people are comfortable with face biometrics for employee attendance tracking (47 percent), retail purchases (43 percent), emotional analysis, as in job interviews (38 percent), and personalization of advertising content (33 percent).

The common thread is a relatively high comfort level with facial recognition use by authorities, and less so with its use by commercial entities.

FacePhi wins aviation customer

FacePhi has reached an agreement with the financial division of a Chilean retail company, as well as a Latin American airline, to provide its face biometrics for remote customer onboarding and contactless flight boarding, respectively, writes Europa Press.

The retailer will use FacePhi’s optical character recognition (OCR) and selfie biometrics for onboarding. The airline will also use the SelphID digital onboarding system, in addition to FacePhi’s Selphi facial recognition for flight boarding.

SITA biometrics deployed at Rome airport

SITA has deployed face biometrics for flight boarding to Delta Airlines flights at Fiumicino Airport in collaboration with Aeroporti di Roma (ADR).

Passengers will be compared against data collected from identification documents and boarding passes, which is deleted after use, according to the announcement. The system uses the data to enable simplified check-in procedures, security checks and flight boarding without requiring the ID document or boarding pass to be shown after biometrics enrollment, similar to Delta’s biometric processing in the U.S.

Delta is also launching a direct Rome to Boston flight, while ADR is also planning to launch an incubator for Italian startups in the aviation sector.

Japan Airlines launches Face Express

Japan Airlines has announced the implementation of ‘Face Express’ face biometrics for contactless international flight boarding at Narita and Haneda airports.

Collins Aerospace is supplying its ARINC SelfPass biometric solution at Haneda Airport, where it will enable passengers to perform baggage drop, security checkpoint, and boarding gate operations without showing a passport or boarding pass.

“Our ARINC SelfPass biometrics solution at Tokyo Haneda Airport streamlines passenger processing while improving airport efficiency and security,” says Collins Airport Systems Vice President Rakan Khaled. “Despite the challenging pandemic environment, we were able to manage staffing and suppliers to ensure smooth delivery of the solution.”

Collins’ deployment at Haneda consists of 98 self-service check-in kiosks, 30 biometric enrollment kiosks, 104 biometric devices for the bag-drop area, 17 biometric automated security gates, and 42 biometric automated self-boarding gates.

A new website has been launched for Face Express, with information on the system’s benefits, privacy controls and opt-out process.

Japan Airlines began trialing its Face Express system in April at the Narita Airport in collaboration with Amadeus and NEC.

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