Biometrics Facial Recognition Technology Poised to Disrupt the Airline Industry

Cutting-edge airport systems have begun using biometric facial recognition technology to allow U.S. travelers to quickly pass through the Travel Security Administration’s (TSA) security screening. Under the new program, travelers can go from check-in all the way to boarding without a ticket and just one security check. State-of-the-art systems allow for self-service options at check-in, bag drop, immigration and boarding. A photograph is taken of the passenger, their face is checked against the image that is retained on a biometric chip, and they are then able to move through the airport without the need for a manual identity check.

There is currently a great deal of interest in this technology globally. Some experts think that most major airports in the world will have adopted biometric facial recognition technology by the year 2020. The technology is expected to improve security while providing faster check in and boarding. There has been a lot of excitement about biometrics in the last year, though some concerns have also been raised.

Privacy experts have been raising concerns about the consequences of widespread use of facial recognition programs in airports, especially when governments are in control. Experts are concerned that facial recognition technology amplifies the risk that your face will be used in ways you might not expect or want.

Privacy specialists warn that U.S. citizens should be wary about the government collecting photos of everyone. While the U.S. government says they will only hold the images of U.S. citizens for 14 days, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency hasn’t implemented restrictions on how it will use the photographs. Cybercrime is also a major concern. Mandatory facial recognition by government agencies presents risks for hacking and identity theft.

Advocates of the biometric airport check-in systems assert that the programs will make the airport experience easier for travelers by shortening the time spent in security lines and other checkpoints. Passengers won’t have to keep track of boarding passes, driver’s licenses and passports, making it easier to navigate the airport experience, especially for parents of babies and young children. Biometric technology can also be used for checkpoints such as entry to airport lounges and for purchases at airport stores. The idea is to create a “customer journey” that will allow travelers to direct themselves. Biometric facial recognition is expected to be a money saver for airports and airlines. Airport efficiency and the reduction of terminal congestion will also make it possible for airports to expand more slowly and with less disruption.

Concerns about data security, privacy and accuracy are not stopping widespread interest in facial recognition technology within commercial airports and airlines. According to a Global Passenger Survey released by International Air Transport Association (IATA), 64 percent of more than 10,000 respondents favor biometric identification systems. The Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques released an Air Transport IT Trends industry study in 2017 that found that 25 percent of airlines are planning to offer “single-token” travel using biometrics by 2020. Single-token travel refers to a system where passengers only need to show a single piece of identification at the first biometric kiosk that they encounter (usually their face), that will allow them access through all pass points throughout the airport.

Will traditional licenses and passports give way to document free travel? There are still issues such as policies, procedures and security issues that need to be dealt with before biometric facial recognition technology will become a trusted and secure standard for security technology.

The environment for the airline industry is becoming increasingly challenging, as the shift to biometric facial metric systems demonstrates. Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) offers the resources necessary to help businesses properly protect themselves against cyber threats and other emerging risks.

Contact an us today to learn more about our innovative risk management services.