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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Facial recognition to make travels easier

Facial recognition technologies always trigger fears of a Big Brother state. Matching a candidate image with the one kept for reference does not threatens anyone’s privacy. Finding out the image of one person out of database containing millions of faces is a different story and may raise concerns among civil liberties organizations.

For instance, Veridos (G+D) announces its VeriGO®TrueID solution, which consists of a mobile app for face detection and server-side matching, with checks performed against an already existing national biometric database. Veridos markets this solution as a means to facilitate enrolment for ID renewal, as citizens can identify themselves through their own smartphone camera.

Facial recognition is among the biometric technologies that become part of our routine when traveling. Fingerprints, palm scans, face scans, etc… become more ubiquitous every day.

According to SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques – International Telecommunication Company for Air Transport), 71% of airlines and 77% of airports are planning major programs of research and development of biometric IDs over the next three years.

For instance, IATA (International Air Transport Association) introduces One ID, a project that aims at reducing repetitive identity checks, thanks to a document-free process based on identity management and biometric recognition. According to IATA, this will bring a better efficiency to airports as well as additional security.

As a first step, Delta Airlines, in a partnership with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) claim they are making the Atlanta International Airport, the first fully biometric airport terminal with facial scanning machines at the self-service kiosks, baggage drop-off counters, TSA checkpoint and all Terminal F boarding gates. There will also be biometric ID stations at CBP for those arriving to the US.

Next step is to capture faces on the fly as proposes Vision-Box, a Portugal-based specialist in government services, travel and border control systems. They propose to have an efficient check-in process, where the passenger enrolls both his biometric and authenticated document data (online or onsite at a check-in kiosk), creating a virtual identity token, that will be checked again as the passenger goes through different controls, for airline security and immigration services.

In a few years from now, we may even dematerialize the passport altogether. However, we all know passport and border control standardization takes time as decisions need to take into account different access levels to technology around the world.

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