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TSA launches digital identity roadmap

FTE panelists aligned on direction
TSA launches digital identity roadmap

Among several familiar themes for airport biometrics – the need for collaboration, improved passenger processing times and experiences, the rapid advance of touchless transactions — a Future Travel Experience webinar presented by Idemia on ‘Next Generation Travel through Trusted Identity & Biometric Solutions’ also provides an introduction to a new policy document from the U.S. federal government.

Panelists discussed many of the processes and initiatives as outlined in the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) document.

TSA Identity Management Capability Manager Jason Lim began his presentation with a review of the launch of TSA’s Biometrics Roadmap in 2018, and the four goals it set out for the agency. The agency has pursued those goals since, and Lim says the fruits of those efforts are starting to be realized following piloting.

The follow-up document, which he says provides “a higher strategic roadmap,” is the TSA Identity Management Roadmap, released on Wednesday (more on that document below), just as the webinar was held. It applies to TSA’s use of biometrics and other digital identity technologies.

TSA is carrying out integration testing for a new form factor of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT II) devices, provided by Idemia, at its lab, while also running pilots at three locations to validate a final set of requirements and determine operational procedures, Lim revealed.

The agency will continue to utilize mobile phones for identity management, rather than following the tokenized biometrics model pursued by IATA.

Greg Forbes of Delta Air Lines presented the carrier perspective on the TSA systems Lim described, as well as Delta’s work on touchless bag-drop services. The opt-in process for TSA checks is built into Delta’s check-in flow for each individual journey, Forbes explains.

Delta is introducing three options for boarding; paper boarding passes, digital boarding passes, or face biometrics.

Forbes says customers who get used to these conveniences find a return to legacy processes disruptive, which creates stickiness for Delta, comparing the services to the convenience advantage of TSA PreCheck.

One surprise, he said, has been the adoption of these passenger convenience programs by people who travel less frequently.

Aura Moore of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) discussed the importance of working with biometrics vendors and other stakeholders for the airport operator, and reviewed the early implementation of biometrics for flight boarding at LAX. LAX is up to 72 e-gates at 15 boarding gates, and expanding further. By next year it will reach 90 to 100 percent of common-use international gates, according to Moore.

Some passengers do opt-out of biometric boarding, but opt-outs appear to be decreasing over time, Moore says.

CBP is wrapping up a 90-day trial of one-step biometric authentication for Global Entry passengers conducted at LAX, which Moore says could further dramatically improve passenger processing times. Between those types of systems and Simplified Arrivals, all international arrivals at LAX are biometric at this point.

Idemia SVP of Travel and Transport Lisa Sullivan emphasized the collaborative aspect of biometrics projects at U.S. airports, and the benefits of those initiatives for passengers in the form of smoother travel processes.

The company is working on making enrolling in programs like PreCheck easier, and Sullivan says it currently takes less than 6 minutes in the majority of cases. Idemia is introducing services for enrolling during the airport journey as well.

As stakeholders continue to encourage signups, she says, providing choices between tools, including mobile digital ID and biometrics, will be key.

TSA Identity Management Roadmap

The new Identity Management Roadmap outlines the agency’s goals for a cohesive identity management ecosystem to support security, passenger experience and operational efficiency goals.

The four goals identified in the TSA’s new roadmap are enhanced enrollment and travel reservation experiences for passengers, expanded and evolved standards for identity proofing to support future vetting and verifications, improved vetting “in response to new threats, policies, and technologies,” and “support(ing) appropriate identity verification activities across the TSA.”

That includes the role of mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) and the agency’s CAT II devices.

Three objectives are set under each goal, and the “guiding principles” of “risk management, person-centric, privacy,’ resource optimization” which apply to each declared. Objectives explicitly referring to biometrics are 3.1; “evolve use of existing and available biometric and biographic data,” and 4.3; “engage industry and interagency partners to enable biometrics and digital identity solutions.”

What TSA calls its ‘cross cutting strategic drivers’ or approaches to achieving the goals, are risk management frameworks, improved data sharing, data quality evaluations, improved self-service capabilities, and expanded collaboration.

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