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Contactless biometric international travel: Eurostar trial, Idemia ID2Travel ecosystem

Contactless biometric international travel: Eurostar trial, Idemia ID2Travel ecosystem

International travel may have entered another round of setbacks with the emergence of the Omicron COVID variant, but biometrics firms are pressing ahead with contactless systems to ease the return of larger passenger numbers in the future.

Idemia’s ID2Travel biometric passenger journey platform lands in North America

Idemia I&S North America has made its travel ecosystem available in North America. ID2Travel as an overall offering is the only interoperable passenger identity platform that covers every step of the traveler journey, from before arriving at the airport, port or railway station through to boarding the plane, boat or whatever the mode of transport is.

The platform is fully interoperable which allows it to be integrated with the systems of either the transport hub or transport provider, such as an airport or individual carrier within an airport.

The system includes biometric identification and identity management, with mobile enrollment beginning before a passenger leaves home to create secured credentials on their mobile device with a scan of ID and a selfie for 1:1 face-matching. This can be via an SDK for an airline app, white label or through the Idemia app.

The system then accompanies a passenger through their entire journey, without biometric-controlled passage through airport access checkpoints, to check-in, bag-drop, through security, lounge access, boarding gate and even border control.

Facial verification is via MFace and VisionPass, contactless fingerprint reading is via MWave. There are passenger-facing interfaces at each kiosk point. Idemia also says the biometric devices and the technology back-end underpinning the ecosystem are secured.

The company hopes for take up of its offering to reduce journey friction as or when passenger numbers return to pre-pandemic levels. Versions of the system are already in place at Singapore’s Changi Airport, Paris Orly and Iceland’s Comprehensive Entry/Exit System.

Eurostar passenger biometrics trial brings world-first, (almost fully) contactless international rail travel

iProov’s face biometrics pilot at Eurostar’s London station has begun, meaning passengers can pass through both the ticket check and passport check to exit the UK simply by undergoing facial verification after going through full checks before even arriving at the station.

Eurostar links London St Pancras with various destinations in mainland Europe via high-speed rail through the Channel Tunnel. The railway operator has been collaborating with iProov and Entrust on a trial limited to 200 passengers run with the UK’s Department of Transport. They uploaded their travel and ID documents to the Eurostar app and completed a series of questions.

iProov’s liveness detection – the Genuine Presence Assurance technology already in use in the UK’s National Health Service app – completes the clearance of the identity credential submitted and binds it to the reading of the passenger’s face and the e-ticket.

The travel part of the trial is now live. SmartCheck is a contactless, dedicated biometric express lane through St Pancras International for the Business Premier and Carte Blanche ticket holders invited to take part. Kiosks check passengers’ faces against the record created at registration.

The trial runs until the end of December and is currently only available to iPhone-using passengers. This is for the registration as they should not need to show their phones while passing through the station.

“This secure, convenient and privacy-protecting technology will make life easier and safer for travelers around the world,” says Andrew Bud, founder and CEO of iProov, commenting on the trial. “The days of rooting around in your bag for your passport or hoping that your phone battery doesn’t run out before you show your e-ticket at the gate are over. It’s effortless and convenient while also delivering the reassurance and security that travelers expect.”

It is also limited to exiting the UK only, not for arriving back into the UK nor for arriving into the Schengen zone, where all other destinations are located. This also means that while going through ticket check, security and the UK border exit point without having to show any documentation, just a few feet later, passengers will need to show their passports to officials at the French border entry at St Pancras station.

“We are committed to working closely with governments to introduce new tools and technology that streamline the check in and border process,” comments Gareth Williams, strategy director and company secretary, Eurostar. “Face biometric technology, which we start trialling today, is a fast and contactless solution which will enable secure passenger checks to take place more efficiently and provide a seamless start to the Eurostar customer journey.”

Williams is very much hoping for close cooperation with governments, as the future for UK/EU travel looks unclear. He said at a recent evidence-gathering session for a House of Lords committee that he cannot see a solution for getting passengers through the upcoming EU requirements for biometrics.

Yet the UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has commented on the positives of this use of technologies for passengers heading in the other direction, praising Innovate UK’s competition behind the trial: “Our investment into the First of a Kind competition, supporting ingenious inventions on our rail network, is driving real-world innovations as we build the railway of tomorrow.

“The brand new contactless travel technology from iProov and Eurostar is a window into the future of border control, of smoother, more seamless and convenient journeys.”

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