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Biometric Airport Technology | Airports NewsSince biometrics were introduced to the US airports market more than a decade ago, the uptake has still been pretty slow in adopting broad biometric measures.

Recently however, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been making sounds in favour of the introduction of greater levels of biometric technology across the country, particularly facial recognition.

How does facial biometric recognition work?

Facial biometric recognition technology can process information quickly – near real-time – and unobtrusively within the airport environment.

In simple terms, the way the system works places a camera within the airport, typically at passport control or other security area, and compares a live image of the travellers’ face with their travel documentation to determine an exact feature match. Using an automated biometric facial matching identification system, the process can be completed in seconds, speeding up the system of passenger processing significantly.

This increased efficiency is key to improving airport operations, particularly when integration with other airport systems can take place.

The trouble is that in the US, governments and departments cannot decide whether investment into biometric technology, both financial and resources, is for the public or the private sector. However, inroads are being built, as the CBP has announced the intention to use biometrics for foreign nationals leaving the US.

There is little doubt across the aviation industry, particularly within the commercial airlines sector, that biometric technology is the way forward for airport security and borders management. One of the key factors in favour of biometrics, aside from the efficiency factor, is the elimination of potential human error in checking travel documentation.

Travellers, according to the experts, could expect to be using their faces as boarding passes within the next three to five years, once infrastructural and operational challenges and investments can be shaken out within the industry. As passenger experience seems to be high on the agenda for the major players in the industry, biometric technology could be a real possibility.

self-service-tech-schipholSome of the very latest biometric technology and self service solutions are on trial at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport this year, in conjunction with Holland’s most famous airline, KLM.

The new technology on trial will involve volunteer passengers, who will board their flights without taking their passports out of their bags, or showing their boarding passes to any personnel at the airport.

Facial recognition technology will be used during the three-month trial, which will test the process thoroughly, including how user-friendly the completely self-service system will be, in addition to its effectivity, reliability and speed of processing.

Schiphol Airport spokesperson said, ‘The ultimate goal is to make the boarding process as easy and quick as possible for passengers. The trial will take place at a selected gate at the airport. To use facial recognition for boarding, passengers must register first. There is a special registration kiosk in the waiting area at the gate. KLM staff will assist with the procedure.’

Schiphol Airport has been at the forefront of trialling new technology, and is also taking part in tests and trials for a new hand baggage scanner, which in the future may negate the necessity for removal of laptops, liquids and other items from hand baggage.

Airport security providers around the world are striving to introduce solutions for passenger processing and security screening that will increase efficiency. Common use identity management solutions have been proved to improve passenger flow, while maintaining security. Such solutions can only serve to improve efficiency, productivity and passenger satisfaction, which is a welcome break for the modern, busy airport facing challenges and increasing mandatory security requirements year-on-year.

Airports around the globe are pushing forward with self-service solutions to make passenger experience better, and to allow greater flexibility for resource and personnel management within the airport environment.

In addition to self-service check-in and baggage handling, the future of aviation travel may involve complete automation using the next generation of biometrics to handle passenger security screening, passport control and data sharing with government departments and agencies.

Rockwell Collins is a major player in the airports infrastructure sector, and has been working on and thinking about innovations in biometrics and identity management for almost a decade.

The use of biometrics, and in particular facial recognition technology, is faced with challenges in the aviation industry, quite aside from the privacy and data sharing issues that continue to be hotly debated around the world.

According to the Director of Strategic Programs for Rockwell Collins’ Global Airports business, Mr Tony Chapman, ‘Everyone is looking for something more unique than facial features. It’s good, but you have to look at the camera.’

Although the idea of complete, biometrics-powered automation is still some years away, it is good to know that some of the biggest innovators in the world are working towards a solution.

Providers of physical security solutions for airports and facilities | Business Aviation NewsA market research report from Transparency Market Research has shown clear indication that the air transport security marketplace will continue to grow over the next five years at a rate of almost 11% CAGR.

According to the report, the growth will be largely due to the expansion of demand in the Asia Pacific region, but across the world, countries are clamping down on terrorism and ensuring passenger safety through both physical and cyber security improvements.

As investment is also increasing, the cost of upgrading air transport security systems is not expected to impact demand for enhanced surveillance, access control and biometric systems. Providers of physical security solutions for airports and facilities welcome the indicators for growth over the coming years.

airport-securityPublic opinion varies wildly about the effectivity of airport screening, with many passengers simply feeling violated after security screening, rather than safer.

The TSA has been around for 15 years, and recent reports suggest that screening personnel are under-performing. Some think that there is too much focus on the process of screening, and not enough on performance, which could lead to another terrorist attack.

Perhaps the answer lies in automated airport security, and with the introduction of sophisticated biometric security systems, why not? If human error is to be blamed for under-performance, then airports around the world are bound to become reliant on technology to keep borders secure.

Maintaining Airport Perimeter Security - Solutions from Leading ProvidersKeeping airport perimeter security tight is a problem that is consistently rearing its head, particularly as security technology companies come up with more advanced sensors, software and motion detection solutions that the ‘men on the ground’ maintain are still not enough.

The high cost of advanced detection technology often prices smaller airports out of this market, but when faced with 268 counts of perimeter breach in US airports in ten years, the issue is clearly a critical one.

Airport perimeter security breaches consist primarily of people climbing over, crawling under or even driving vehicles through the fences that surround the airport. It is the airport’s responsibility to protect the perimeters, while the TSA handle the passenger and baggage screening.

Government officials are raising concerns over perimeter breaches and calling for upgrades to security equipment to reduce the risks. Congressman Eric Swalwell said, “Porous airport perimeters are major vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit. I’m continuing to call for airports to use technologies that would alert officials the moment a perimeter is breached.”

As every airport differs in their surroundings, there is no single answer to increase security around airport perimeters. Many airport security personnel believe that increasing numbers of security personnel, coupled with an increase in high tech solutions would reduce instances of breach attempts, but staffing levels and funding variables make it difficult to apply the changes across the board.

Improving Airport Security with Biometric Solutions ProvidersAlthough the world’s major airports are stepping up security for passengers and employees, a top airport official, speaking at Los Angeles International Airport still thinks that it may not be enough to stop the ‘lone wolf’ slipping through the net.

Mr Patrick Gannon, police chief of LAX, said that 54,000 employees undergo recurring security screening, including criminal background checks, but believes that this may not be enough. He said, “I agree that in any airport throughout the United States and here also, there is never a 100% guarantee that somebody who wanted to do something illegal or wrong couldn’t make that happen.”

Just two of the U.S. airports, Orlando and Miami, require all personnel that have access to secure areas of the airport to pass through metal detectors, with other major airports conducting random checks. Often airport personnel undergo the bare minimum before being hired, such as a criminal background check.

The debate has been raised since the arrest of the Delta baggage handler at the end of last year at Jackson International Airport for gun smuggling alongside a passenger.

Mr Gannon is concerned about the process of screening airport staff and the risk of a single member of staff being overlooked. Miami airport security director, Lauren Stover agrees that ID badges and swipe cards are not enough to guarantee the eradication of the likelihood of contraband or a person with malicious intent getting through security access doors.

The debate continues as airports around the world aim to stamp out the threat of terrorist attack. As employees could be targeted by organisations, regular and constant screening is the only answer and is held back by cost implications on a broad scale.

Other Automated Border Control Solutions ProvidersAccording to Georg Hasse, Senior Product Manager of the Portfolio of Electronic Identities at Secunet, leading German IT security company, this year has been an excellent year in terms of sales and industry technological advancements. Europe is expected to dominate the automated border control market over the next five years, so recent research from Acuity tells us, and Germany are embracing the latest technology for biometric border control.

What is being dubbed the ‘border control revolution’ in some corners of the industry, involves the use of biometric recognition in the form of electronic passports, VISAs and residence permits – a growing trend that is quickly spreading as the entire system offers enhanced border security, while keeping operational costs to a minimum.

Across the globe, border security is a hot topic as the threat of terrorism is tackled with a bid to track and monitor the movements of potential persons of interest.

Secunet has been working closely with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in the field of biometrics for many years, notes Mr Hasse. Secunet prefers to look at the subject of identity protection as a process, rather than a single solution. He said, “This is a decisive advantage for our customers: our biometrics specialists have a better understanding of the effects a new project will have on previous or subsequent process stages than anyone else. For our customers, this guarantees smooth integration of their solution into the overall process. Within the biometrics industry we are well known for our BioAPI 2.0 compliant biometric middleware Secunet biomiddle that is being used by various public authorities in Europe as a platform for their border control and visa applications. This middleware is also an integral part of our eGate solution Secunet easygate that is currently being rolled out at German airports within EasyPASS, the German ABC project. In addition we offer a modular Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solution called Secunet eID PKI Suite that is being used in the border control context with modern eMRTDs.”

Earlier this month, the UK government raised issues about the provision of Advance Passenger Information to further strengthen directives to protect European borders. Currently the E.U. carry strict policy restrictions for the handling of passenger data. It will be interesting to watch the debate continue in light of the growth of biometric border security solutions industry.

Airport Systems Providers for Biometric Border SecuritySuperCom, global provider of electronic intelligence solutions has today announced that they will be implementing a high-scale National Security e-Government contract consisting of several, integrated modules. The system is intended to enhance the security of the Country’s borders and add to the economic growth.

Included in the e-Gate security system will be:

Biometric eGate for border control will be deployed at all port entry/exit points for air, sea and land to increase national security for immigration control and improve efficiency.

Biometric Visa applications will reduce processing time and aid the identification of potential security threats to the country.

Biometric Resident Identification System will implement biometric enrolment stations for the issue of ICAO-compliant resident ID cards.

Biometric e-Passport System for the issue of ICAO-standard high security e-Passports.

Providers of electronic borders solutions bring enhanced levels of efficiency to passenger processing while maintaining secure borders. The implementation of systems can help to reduce waiting times with the expedition of ‘low-risk’ travellers and the identification of potential ‘high-risk’ passenger for further investigation.