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HomeLatest NewsFacial Recognition: Coming Soon to an Airport Near You

Facial Recognition: Coming Soon to an Airport Near You

The use of biometric technology is becoming more widespread in airports throughout the world including the United States, changing how passengers navigate them from luggage check to aircraft boarding.  

Facial Recognition Technology Streamlines Airport Security Processes 

Travellers poured through Terminal C’s external doors at La Guardia Airport on a recent Thursday morning in Queens. As they checked their bags and proceeded to the security screening lines, a few appeared sleepy-eyed, with the majority gripping their briefcases. Up until a few people approached a nearly empty queue, everything was going as usual. A security guard waited by as each of them made their way to a kiosk that had an iPad attached to it so that their pictures could be taken. Each passenger’s picture was quickly compared to a picture in a government database, allowing them to pass security and enter the more intricate part of the airport. There’s no need for a physical ID or boarding permit. 

Biometric Revolution in Air Travel: Implementation and Benefits 

Even though they had already chosen to participate in the programme, some travellers still offered identification, but the officer rejected it.This facial recognition software passenger screening, which was made available to a select group of passengers at La Guardia by Delta Air Lines and the Transportation Security Administration, is just one illustration of how biometric technology—which makes use of a person’s distinct physical identifiers, such as their face or fingerprints—promises to revolutionise air travel.Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research, believes that this year may mark the “tipping point” for the widespread adoption of biometrics in air travel. Soon, lengthy airport procedures like going through security, dropping off your bags, and even boarding a plane might just require your face, “helping to reduce waiting times and stress.” 

Ethical and Privacy Concerns Surrounding Biometric Adoption at Airports 

Both government organisations in charge of aviation security and big airlines in the US have made significant investments in facial recognition technology. International airports implementing biometric-enabled automated gates and self-service kiosks for immigration and customs are becoming more and more common. According to experts, the deployment of this technology may result in improved passenger processing times and security. However, it also brings up ethical and privacy issues. Many concerns have been raised concerning the use of biometrics at airports, according to Dr. Morgan Klaus Scheuerman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado who specialises in the ethics of digital identity and artificial intelligence: How are the systems assessed and trained? Would giving up be viewed as a warning sign? What happens if the documents you have don’t look the way you do now? 

Positive attitude on technology in the United States  

The TSA is the primary federal organisation responsible for guaranteeing the safety of the hundreds of millions of travellers who use flights every year. It has over 50,000 agents stationed at roughly 430 airports across the country. Applicants for the TSA PreCheck programme, which provides faster security screening at more than 200 domestic airports, must be deemed “low-risk” travellers. While biometric verification provided by Clear, a private screening business, and PreCheck, which necessitates an in-person appointment for the presentation of documentation and fingerprinting, have contributed to a reduction in screening wait times, passengers sometimes have to wait in lengthy lines to reach their gates. 

In the boundaries 

Up until now, the fastest-growing application of facial recognition technology at US airports has been in entry and departure security procedures.The increase is the result of a 2001 congressional mandate that was put into place following the events of 9/11 and called for the establishment of a system that would enable all travellers entering and leaving the United States to be recognised through the use of biometric technology.The biometric technology for individuals entering the United States is in place and was scanned at airports last year for 113 million entries. It is under the control of the Customs and Border Protection department. The C.B.P. hopes to cover all airports with international departures by 2026. Currently, the system is available at 49 airports for travellers departing the country.Entry by biometrics is required for foreign nationals.  

Travelling abroad without a document  

Experts predict that facial recognition will be used for every aspect of travelling through airports in the future, including checking bags, boarding, accessing lounges, and making purchases at airport retail establishments. It might be so efficient that security checkpoints are removed and security “tunnels” that travellers pass through while having their identities verified are installed in their place. Dr. Sheldon Jacobson, an aviation security researcher and professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, stated, “This is the future.” 



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