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New SITA airport biometrics installation, Vision-Box platform announced

US prepares for annual holiday air travel surge
New SITA airport biometrics installation, Vision-Box platform announced

A new biometric corridor for airports has been introduced by Vision-Box, and Aruba is taking the next step in a partnership with SITA to make traveler journeys seamless. Meanwhile in the U.S., deployments from Clear and Collins Aerospace have been announced, just ahead of the country’s peak travel season.

Vision-Box launches biometric corridor platform

Vision-Box has introduced a new biometric technology platform for airports called “Free Flow” to replace border control gates with advanced camera systems used to verify travelers’ identities as they pass through a biometric corridor.

Capturing biometrics in corridors instead of at gates will reduce queues and passenger frustration, according to a company announcement. Passengers register their biometric on their smartphone, and the platform provides dynamic customer status updates and notifications. Vision-Box refers to Free Flow as a “Seamless Journey Platform,” and says it includes highly accurate algorithms for biometric presentation attack detection.

The platform also enables airport stakeholders to obtain passenger consent and then use their data to optimize their cost structures and generate new revenue streams, Vision-Box says.

The new technology was unveiled at the Dubai Airshow this week.

Vision-Box Founder and CEO Miguel Leitmann notes in the announcement that the company designs and manufactures all its hardware and software in-house.

“In my view, ‘Free Flow’ is the only viable experience that will cope with the increasing passenger numbers,” he says. “With the introduction of the ‘Free Flow’ technology, we are not just simplifying the travel experience; we are redefining it.”

SITA installation planned as Aruba advances digital travel system

SITA’s biometric Automatic Border Control Gates are about to be installed at Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba, which has been working with the government to deliver seamless travel experiences with Digital Travel Credentials.

A pair of Aruba government agencies are also claiming success in a demonstration of the Aruba Happy One Pass (AHOP) program. The AHOP program is expected to go live for all arrivals to Aruba in March, 2024. The government bodies working on it are the Aruba Tourism Authority, the Office of the Minister of Tourism and Public Health.

The AHOP combines verifiable digital credentials on travelers’ mobile devices with face biometric checks at immigration. AHOP is based on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) One ID.

“The emergence of digital identities means we will be able to travel from anywhere to everywhere – by air, land, or sea – without needing to show physical travel documents,” says Jeremy Springall, SITA’s SVP for SITA at Borders. “This latest demonstration with AHOP represents a significant step forward in the shift towards digital travel. A critical feature of the technology is that it puts passengers first, following privacy-by-design principles that give passengers complete control of their data and permitting them to consent to sharing data when needed.”

The decentralized DTC was jointly developed by SITA and Indicio.

“Adding biometrics to Aruba HOP’s capabilities is an important step toward transforming global travel,” says Heather Dahl, CEO of Indicio. “It adds a critical element to identity verification, binding the credential to a person’s device so that we can be sure that when it’s used, it’s the credential owner using it. This provides the final element of trust to accelerate Aruba’s digital transformation of the travel and tourism experience.”

American airports brace for record volumes

This year’s holiday season in America is expected to be the busiest ever at the nation’s airports. The highest-volume day for air travel passengers in U.S. history was June 30, 2023, when the Transportation Security Administration processed 2,884,783 passengers. The second-busiest was in December, 2019, but the third, fourth and fifth busiest days ever at U.S. airports have all occurred in the second half of 2023.

A series of deployments have been announced ahead of the American Thanksgiving weekend.

Collins Aerospace is deploying its ARINC SelfPass face biometrics to Guam International Airport to streamline passenger processing and lower congestion.

SelfPass connects the user’s passport, boarding pass and biometrics for use at each stage of the airport journey. ARINC bag drop and check-in products are also part of the deployment.

Officials noted the importance of strong identity verification at a U.S. airport where 91 percent of arrivals are foreigners.

Clear has opened several biometric kiosks at the security checkpoint of T.F. Green International Airport in Rhode Island.

The deployment brings Clear to 55 airports served, and has created 25 jobs, a Clear executive told local outlet WJAR.

The TSA has expanded its acceptance of Colorado’s mobile driver’s license (mDL) to the North Security Checkpoint of Denver International Airport.

DEN is one of 26 airports across America with CAT-2 biometric scanners from Idemia in operation, according to the TSA announcement.

Colorado is one of seven states currently offering digital IDs.

While TSA has been consistently promoting the advance of its airport biometrics systems, the Department of Homeland Security, which TSA is part of, has just added its biometrics to an inventory of artificial intelligence use cases.

FedScoop reports that the Traveler Verification Service which TSA and Customs and Border Protection use for face biometric checks was added to the directory on October 31, 2023. References on TSA’s website date back to 2021, however, and CBP references to it start in 2019.

Biometric Update reported on a Privacy Impact Assessment for the service in 2018.

CBP has processed the biometrics of 300 million travelers, and Jody Hardin, the agencies executive director for planning, program analysis and evaluation, said during the recent 2023 Homeland Security Summit that the program is increasingly successful, GovCon Wire reports.

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