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Biometric air travel initiatives advance in Singapore, US, South Africa, UK, Brazil

Biometric air travel initiatives advance in Singapore, US, South Africa, UK, Brazil

Initiatives utilizing biometrics systems have been unveiled around the world, with Singapore planning to deploy new iris and facial biometrics verification systems at Changi Airport by the end of the year. Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) launches a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck enrollment initiative, and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is considering investing 100 million Rand (roughly US$6 million) to become among the first African organizations to introduce digital ID verification technology for air travel.

Also, Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS) announces that AGS Airports Limited (AGS) has awarded the company the trial phase of their procurement program, and two airports in Brazil will adopt digital boarding technologies relying on face biometrics.

All our current bugbears around air travel may soon disappear, according to a study by Delaware North, which runs retail and restaurants in airports, reports Axios. Biometric surveillance would apparently mean an end to airside and landside divisions as every person would be monitored at all times. Sixty-four percent of airports worldwide are planning to bring in biometric self-boarding gates by 2023, according to the report.

Houston airports to use biometrics for agent-free, document-free passenger journeys

Houston Airports which operates George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and William P. Hobby (HOU) airports is partnering with air travel IT specialist Amadeus to bring in biometrics and automation for barrier-free travel through the terminal via Amadeus Flow.

At Bush’s A and D terminals and at Hobby, passengers who enroll their biometrics can expect to check in, drop baggage, access lounges and board without having to show any paper tickets or identity credentials.

Enrollment effectively makes passengers’ faces their ID and boarding pass.

Underpinned by Amadeus’s cloud capabilities, 230 check-in facilities will be connected across the airports, of which 110 will be biometric. Work is already underway.

Singapore plans new biometrics system for Changi Airport

Enrolling in the new iris and facial biometrics verification systems, passengers at Changi Airport will be able to use automated clearance and travel without the need for a physical passport.

According to CNA, iris biometrics will be used as the main form of verification for passing through e-kiosks, as well as facial recognition.

Passengers hoping to use the service will need to register with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). This is done at dedicated kiosks where the secondary biometrics — fingerprints, as stored in a biometric passport — can be used to retrieve a passport if iris biometrics have not been captured.

Should a person get distracted while collecting their passport the passport will be automatically retracted within 30 seconds and stored in the machine until collection.

From the second half of the year, foreigners will also be eligible to enroll their biometrics on arrival to use automated clearance when they leave and for subsequent visits.

As more immigration processes are digitalized, CNA also said airport officers will be trained to perform more complex roles and non-routine tasks.

Over 5,000 additional officers will be reportedly trained by the end of next year in areas such as profiling and interviewing skills to identify suspicious travelers. The training itself has included novel approaches such as eye-tracking for facial recognition training and the use of augmented reality for document checking and virtual reality for general operations.

Idemia’s face biometrics were deployed at Changi Airport back in 2017.

SDF launches new TSA PreCheck enrollment initiative

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) has launched a new TSA PreCheck enrollment initiative running 5 May through 16 May, 2022.

No appointment is needed to attend the event, which will enable travelers to enroll in Idemia’s TSA PreCheck scheme at the airport as they fly out on their next trip.

Individuals will be able to enroll directly at the airport, or apply online beforehand and complete their enrollment at the airport.

Name, date of birth, and passport number are required to enroll in the system, alongside a photo taken for future face biometrics checks, fingerprints, and an $85 enrollment application fee covering five years of participation.

ACSA to invest $6M in digital ID and biometrics tech for air travel

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) CIO and chairperson of the Public Sector ICT Forum, Mthoko Mncwabe, announced the R100 million investment in biometrics for air travel, reports ITWeb.

Speaking during a presentation to the Forum last week, Mncwabe confirmed ACSA is planning to introduce face biometrics and digital identity technologies to facilitate passengers’ traveling experience.

“We want to be the first company across South Africa’s airports to use facial recognition in the customer onboarding processes,” he said.

“The Department of Home Affairs is also working on a similar biometric digital ID system that will be used to enhance its services. These are the type of systems we need to drive digital identities, while also ensuring customer data is highly safeguarded.”

Mncwabe concluded his speech by calling for government regulations aimed at supporting locally-developed solutions.

The Department of Home Affairs is set for arbitration over a $27 million biometrics contract that has turned sour and has so far gone undelivered.

AGS Airports awards IDSS trial phase of screening procurement

The agreement will see Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS) partner with UK-based AGS Airports, Pangiam and Google Cloud to create a new checkpoint screening environment.

Based on the DETECT 1000 Open Architecture platform, the system will also enable sharing of data among screening systems to improve the overall operational efficiencies of the checkpoint.

DETECT 1000 has received a number of certifications, including from TSA and from the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) for explosives detection.

Following the Glasgow trial, IDSS will then complete the rollout to all three airports in the UK.

Brazil moves steps toward ‘biometric boarding’

The air bridge between Congonhas (São Paulo) and Santos Dumont (Rio de Janeiro) airports will deploy digital biometric facial boarding in Brazil for both passengers and crew, Intelligent CIO reports.

The move is a result of a cooperation agreement between Infraero and Serpro, a technology company owned by the Brazilian Federal Government.

The new digital program will mean passengers are no longer required to show physical identification documents when accessing the departure lounge and airplane.

Instead, they will be able to enroll in the system by having their photo taken by CPF (Brazilian Individual Taxpayer Registration), which will perform biometric validation comparing the data and the photo taken at the time with government databases.

After enrollment, travelers’ identities will be confirmed via biometric control points with facial recognition cameras located at the airport.

“The definitive use of biometrics at our airports is something really innovative, a great strategic evolution for the airline sector,” comments Marcelo Sampaio, Executive Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure.

“It guarantees more safety to users, speeds up boarding procedures and access to aircraft, and reduces costs for companies, which will have fewer teams in these operations and less time with aircraft on the ground.”

The final implementation of the new biometric system is planned for this coming July.

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