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Canada to contract face biometrics for border app as airports worldwide embrace mobile

Canada to contract face biometrics for border app as airports worldwide embrace mobile

Canada is seeking smartphone-based face biometrics to verify the identity of travelers crossing its borders.

The contract with the Canadian Border Services Agency is expected to be worth anywhere from $5 million Canadian (roughly US$3.6 million) to CA$25 million ($18.2 million), according to the public posting.

CBSA “is looking to acquire and test biometrics FRT solutions (also known as “algorithms”) to evaluate technical performance compared to what is currently in use in the Canadian context.”

Bidders must be based in a country that is a NATO member or part of the Five Eyes alliance (Canada, the U.S., the UK, Australia and New Zealand) to meet security requirements.

The tender closes May 21.

The CBSA has been reported to be considering using facial recognition for more border checks for some time now, but has also been grappling with the disastrous and expensive rollout of the ArriveCan app, which has turned into a partisan sideshow.

Australia, US and EU all prepare for further airport digitization

The appeal of mobile apps for airport processes comes in part from the ability to automate parts of the system and speed up passenger checks. Digitization can also avoid some of the headaches that can accompany physical credentials, as well.

Kentucky’s new Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses are in some cases posing problems for the TSA’s authentication technology, according to WXIX. The outlet recounts the story of a woman and her husband being told by TSA officers that their IDs, issued only in 2023, look “washed out.”

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram is hoping to further advance the country towards “seamless” airport journeys through biometrics before he departs the role later this year, he told InnovationAus in an interview.

“You arrive in Australia [and] we’ve already pre-cleared you from an immigration point of view because we know who you are, we have your biometrics, you could walk off the air bridge and your bag could in theory go straight into the belly of a domestic flight,” he says.

It is not plausible for the government to hire enough security personnel to handle the volumes of air passengers that are expected in the years ahead, according to Outram.

The Mobile Passport Control app operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection can now be used to pass CBP checks prior to boarding at Abu Dhabi airport.

All 14 airports around the world with Preclearance now accept MPC, including Aruba; Bermuda; Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; Nassau, Bahamas; and Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg, Canada. CBP says the preclearance program allows its officers to focus more on inspections and less on administration, for faster processing of American and some Canadian passengers.

Members of European Parliament will vote this week on whether to approve new rules for how airlines should collect and transmit Advance Passenger Information.

Airlines will have to collect and share each passenger’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport details. Biometrics, however, will not be included, and data will be deleted when no longer needed, meaning within 48 hours in most cases. The rules apply to flights arriving from outside of the EU, law enforcement purposes, and flights departing from EU countries.

The vote will be held on Wednesday.

Utilizing data with digital processes and preclearance are among the major themes of SITA’s new white paper on taking advantage of biometrics to solve aviation industry challenges. The 41-page “Face the Future” white paper covers several models for biometric apps to ease passenger journeys, including the Star Alliance biometric app and Digital Travel Credentials.

SITA Biometrics Whitepaper

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