Digital technologies are radically transforming the traveling business and the airports around the world. This technology, integrated with new self-service solutions, now offers the means to address today’s security challenges, the search for enhanced quality of service.
The today’s challenges
Over the last two decades, the world has changed completely different political and economic upheavals have led to a change in air travel practices. Airports are now taking into account increasingly strict security demands and stricter passenger controls.
At another level, air transport is a key facilitating factor for the economy. Business and tourist travel are a source of wealth and job creation. The travel sector (airports, airlines, national and international authorities, the security industry) find themselves confronted with decisive requirements: to provide fluidity for “reliable” passengers, limit waiting times and passenger delays, reinforce controls to counter potential threats, all of this while containing costs.
Biometrics and the traveler identity
According to the International Air Transport Association, there will be nearly four billion air passengers in 2017 and this number is set to double over the next 20 years. The travel industry is now discovering the tremendous potential of biometrics, which goes far beyond strictly security-related applications, dipping into creating a 360-degree view of each traveler, allowing them to KYC.
The idea is for the travellers to be able to authenticate themselves once and for all, either on their mobile device or at an airport kiosk, and generate a sole secure identity that will be used throughout the whole journey.
The shape of travel to come: A full end-to-end self-service experience thanks to biometrics
Over the past 15 years, airports and airlines have very widely opted for the deployment of automatic systems with the aim of freeing up bottlenecks in passenger flows – which can be a very problematic issue at peak times – by simplifying the check-in process.
The UAE is already in the forefront of these implementations; think how this is going to play an instrumental part, as Dubai prepares to host the next Expo in 2020 and expecting millions of travellers passing through the airport on a daily basis.
Biometrics play a key role, as taking these automated services far beyond. A unique profile can be created at the beginning of the journey, face or fingerprint will be scanned, and used as the identity token for verification for the rest of the journey. Thanks to biometrics, everyone effectively carries their own means of authorization.
All these initiatives reflect the current trend towards greater automation of control procedures. The modern-day traveller in fact spends a lot of time surfing the web, sending messages, updating on the latest news, etc. So booking a flight, checking in, boarding, smiling at the camera on their phone to access it, and so on, look like a logical extension of lifestyle habits initiated by all these new technologies.
With 1,000 million electronic passports now in service worldwide, which means one billion passport photos accessible by face recognition systems, the e-gates mentioned above represent the most promising biometric solution, and they are already a reality in an increasing number of airports. Recent studies have confirmed time savings of the order of 80 per cent thanks to automated check-in and security procedures.
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