Orlando: Face recognition for biometric entry/exit

Facial recognition to identify all international passengers at Orlando airport (Business Traveller)

“Instead of handling paper documents, boarding passengers will queue in turnstile-like lanes, stepping onto yellow footprints and looking into a camera to have their face scanned. The scan will then be compared to images obtained from passports or other travel documents to confirm identity.”

The aspect of this program dealing with facial recognition for departing passengers is especially interesting. Airline gate agents probably aren’t trained to detect identity fraud to the degree that customs agents are. Their priority is to board the aircraft as efficiently as possible.

Recording the biometric transaction will also begin to provide rigorous data that may also inform efforts to meet the repeated US Congress requirements for biometric exit technology.

Much more information with pictures and video is available at the Orlando Sentinel.

US Customs pilots face-rec for returning citizens

US customs launches biometric pilot at airports (Security Document World)

“The facial recognition software provides the [CBP Officers] with a match confidence score after the e-passport chip is scanned and the photo is taken. The score is generated by algorithms designed to detect possible imposters.”

A one-to-one search comparing the passport photo to the person standing at the customs kiosk is about as simple as a facial recognition deployment gets.

The only complicating factor is where they get the photo. If they use the photo physically present on the passport’s photo page, they will probably want to contend with the security marks and holograms somehow while processing the image for matching. If they want to use the photo stored electronically on the passport’s internal chip, as it appears they do, they’ll need some specialized hardware that retrieves the photo and the issue of “broken” passports will arise. Still, as far as country-level biometric deployments go, this one isn’t too daunting.

In a post-pilot phase, it may be desirable to use the passport number to pull the photo from a State Department database and compare that to the passport image and a live image of the person presenting their travel documents.

London: Biometrics improve the airport experience

Gatwick CIO Eliminates Lines at the Airport (Wall Street Journal)

For two years, nearly 95% of passengers have passed through security at Gatwick in less than five minutes each, said Mr. Ibbitson, speaking Tuesday at a conference. Using technology such as biometrics and touch screens with efficient interfaces, Gatwick has automated processes such as security checks and immigration, improving their performance. This year alone Gatwick has added 2 million additional passengers. “Predominantly, this is down to better airfield management and part of that is down to implementing software as a service tools,” he said.

Australia: “Foreign fighters” bill invites debate

Opposition grows to storage of photo and biometric data (Sydney Morning Herald)

The legislation specifically clears the way for all Australians as well as foreigners to be photographed when they leave Australia and when they return if they go through automated passport gates – which are set to become far more commonly used.

The department estimates that between 40 and 60 per cent of the 35 million travellers leaving and entering Australia each year would be photographed, many millions of them Australians.

The department can also share the biometric information for “specified purposes” according to the bill’s explanatory memoranda, though it does not explain what these purposes are.

“Critics say the danger of such information being hacked is profound, given many personal electronic devices are now secured by fingerprints and iris scans.”

A couple of points that we’ve made before come to mind here.

First, if the government of Australia is incapable of keeping citizen information secure from hackers, is the biometric information of international travellers really a top-order concern? Surely, the government already secures information that is much more valuable to hackers than that.

Second, passports are interesting in that they aren’t just ID’s. They’re also an interoperability technology, a way two governments facilitate their agreement related to the treatment of civilian citizens traveling abroad. They only work unless there’s a government on both sides of the equation and any government on its site of the border can collect just about whatever information it desires as a condition of allowing a non-citizen entry into its territory.

Even if Australians reject the “foreign fighters” bill, they will still be subject to the information requested of them by the countries they visit, and that information can be shared back with Australia on a government-to-government basis.

With globalization and the lowering of cultural boundaries among the international travel set, it can seem like international travel is no big deal. Brussels is, in many ways, a lot like Washington, DC. But international travel is not without security risks to the visited country and international travelers should always be aware that their legal status outside their home country is very different than it is at home.

Airline biometrics for security & convenience

Forget E-Tickets, Alaska Air Mulling E-Thumb for Boarding (Bloomberg)

Alaska Airlines (ALK) is exploring using passengers’ fingerprints to replace travel documents, driver’s licenses and credit cards now needed to navigate from airport curbs to jetliner seats. If successful, it would be the first U.S. carrier to employ biometrics for boarding passes and inflight purchases and could spur wider adoption across the industry.

Biometrics can add security and convenience at the same time. It looks like people are starting to recognize it.

Smartgates and the tightening of UK & Australia borders

AUSTRALIA: ‘Foreign fighter’ laws leave door open on biometric data collection (Computerworld)

The government’s second tranche of national security legislation, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, includes measures that potentially allow a significant increase in the types of biometric data collected at Australian airports.

Provisions in the bill also extend to Australian travellers data collection practices that have previously been confined to non-citizens.



UK: New biometric border controls at Stansted Airport at heart of terrorism fight (Herts and Essex Observer)

“We are using resources and intelligence to ensure the border is as strong as we can make it.”

He said the Government was also committed to tackling the problem of those travelling from the UK to the Middle East to join the IS jihadists and a new counter-terrorism Bill was set to include measure to temporarily remove the passports of those suspected of being radicalised and ready to fight abroad.

Private companies to help populate TSA traveler biometric database

US airports to introduce new online biometric screening technologies (Companies and Markets)

The United States Transportation Security Administration has announced its plans to allow private companies to enrol passengers for expedited screening at airports.

The initiative, known as PreCheck, will allow US citizens to go through an online pre-enrollment process by providing biometric information.

This reminds me of India’s UID system where private companies populate government databases. India had some trouble with this arrangement partly due to the way revenues flowed. In India the government payed companies to enroll people (many without ID’s) in UID. Some unscrupulous agents there were signing up vegetables and getting paid for it.

Presumably, because the TSA system will involve people who already have a verified identity and the customer will be footing the bill, the opportunity for that type of graft won’t be there.

Video of gait analysis in action

This Security Solution Says It Can Figure Out If You Are Safe Or Dangerous By Scanning Your Skeleton (Business Insider – Australia)

They’re using a standard 2D surveillance camera to analyse a person’s motions and create a “skeletal map,” which shows the distance between joints and how they move. By comparing this map with future scans, Extreme Reality can detect any differences in movements that might indicate signs of stress and red flags. The system uses complex algorithms to detect these differences, and according to Extreme Reality, it is more than 90% accurate.

See for yourself…

Some people really love stovepipes…

…otherwise there wouldn’t be so many.

Congress demands progress on advanced ID cards  (FCW)

“We’ve spent billions and we have nothing to show for it,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) at a June 19 hearing addressing lagging implementation of fingerprint and iris recognition technology. Mica, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations, noted various examples of flawed federal biometric ID efforts, including the Transportation Workers Identification Credential, or TWIC card, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s new pilot’s license — which does not include a photo of the licensee.

“It’s mind boggling that we have nothing close to meeting with the intent of the 2004 law,” said Mica. “Is there any sense of urgency here?” asked Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the subcommittee’s ranking minority member.

Witnesses included managers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, FAA, Customs and Border Protection and the State Department.

It’s stunning that pilots licenses still don’t have photographs on them. Lots of good information awaits those who click the link.

Dubai airport is adding 14 e-gates to the 14 it already uses

After only five months, the Dubai airport is doubling the amount of biometric e-gates available to passengers.

Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3 to get 14 more e-gates (Gulf News)

Dubai: The smart e-gate system which went operational at Dubai International airport’s Terminal 3 from January 1 this year is being expanded with 14 new e-gates becoming operational in a month’s time, taking the number of smart e-gates to 28, according to emaratech, the company which has engineered and powered the project.

The new smart e-gate system and the technology behind it were demonstrated at the 13th Airport Show. Sunil Gulia, emaratech’s technical manager, said the smart e-gate system has already seen close to 70,000 passengers registering since it started, but the number of times the gate has been used is much higher due to frequent fliers.

UPDATE:
20 seconds to get through UAE immigration, thanks to Smart Gates (The National)

Three passengers will be able to be processed each minute using the new system and “Smart Gates” – a vast improvement on the current average wait of about an hour.

Travelers and Feds agree: Trusted traveler programs should be bigger

With the first person account of the enrollment process at the beginning, the story starts badly for biometrics. What follows is a very good discussion of various trusted traveler programs and how they could fit together in a future air travel identity management landscape.

Travelers Welcome a Customs Shortcut (New York Times)

The programs are all based on the concept of risk management, rather than the unattainable goal of total risk elimination. The idea is to develop standard criteria so the programs can work better with each other. They include Global Entry for international airport arrivals, as well as land-crossing programs like Sentri on the Mexican border (which is also open to approved Mexican citizens), and Nexus, a joint entry program between the United States and Canada.

They also include PreCheck, a program of the Transportation Security Administration that speeds screening at select domestic airports for passengers designated as trusted travelers.

The T.S.A. is working to expand eligibility for PreCheck beyond high-volume travelers chosen by airlines. The agency’s administrator, John S. Pistole, told me he wanted to develop a domestic program that he called “Global Entry Lite,” partly using Global Entry criteria, to increase PreCheck eligibility.

It’s good to see many of our regular themes — unattainability of perfection, interoperability, scalability — getting their due in this article.

A simple and powerful facial recognition application

In many ways, the deployment model described in the linked article is the perfect facial recognition app.

It’s minimalist, requiring no large database of potentially sensitive information. If, in the case of the most minimal possible system, the database just contains faces it’s debatable whether or not the face alone is personally identifiable information (PII) at all which ought to alleviate the concerns of even the most strident privacy advocates. The database can be wiped clean altogether every few hours.

Since matching algorithm developers tend to charge by the size of the searchable database, the small database size should keep the system affordable.

The environment in which the enrollment image is created can be tightly controlled.

The probe image is collected on the same day as the database image, so no one is likely to age by several years, have plastic surgery or grow a beard in the time between photos.

The environment where the probe image is created can also be tightly controlled.

The people to be identified are cooperative users of the system, so it’s more like an access control deployment and less like surveillance.

Databases like these are likely to remain very small making error rates manageable by an attendant human being.

See also: One-Time-Only ID Technologies

Automated face recognition speeds up plane boarding (The Engineer)

In use, passengers reaching the ‘self-boarding’ gate pass through an automatic electronic barrier which takes an infrared scan of their face.

This information is checked against the biometric data that was taken at the check-in stage.

When the two sets of data scans are successfully matched, the barrier opens and the passenger can pass through and board their flight.

Biometric passenger service, CLEAR, reaches milestone

CLEAR Speeds Millionth Traveler Through Airport Security (Press release via PR Web)

Certified by the Department of Homeland Security as Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology, CLEAR transforms the travel experience by allowing members to use their biometrics (fingerprint or iris) to speed through security at major US airports.

“We estimate that CLEAR members have saved over 30 million minutes that would have been spent waiting in line at airport security,” said Allison Romano, Director of Member Services. “The predictability of CLEAR is crucial for our members. Since 42% of members travel at least once per month, 15% travel once per week, and 50% travel during peak hours, CLEAR has a significant impact on their travel experience. That means more time living and less time waiting.”

Visit CLEAR here.

UPDATE: Face recognition passport checks available to Norwegians returning via Oslo

It’s on.

Oslo Airport initiates self-service passport control (Future Travel Experience)

First, passengers scan their passports at the entrance to the unit. When validated, the system unlocks a turnstile through which a passenger photograph is taken and compared with the photo in the passport. If the photos correspond, a second turnstile will open and the passenger is free to leave the passport control area. A border guard manually monitors the system, which records no personal passenger data.

Earlier…

MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012

Face recognition passport checks available to Norwegians returning via Oslo

Self-service Passport Control is Introduced The Nordic Page (The Nordic Page) 

The technology is based on face recognition and has a two-stage operation. After passing the first gate, traveler’s face is scanned to compare with the picture on the passport. After the image match is completed, the next door is opened and the border control finishes. The process takes about 15 seconds.

This seems like a well-conceived deployment. Using the face photo in the passport document eliminates the need for a huge database of all the passport photos in the world.

Still, there are a couple of things account for.

For passports without a chip, it it is possible that clumsier fakes involving switched passport photos would pass an automated screening than would pass a human inspection. For chip-based passports, comparing the picture on the chip with the picture on the document would account for this (or make such a fake a whole lot more difficult).

There is also the question of passport chip adoption and interoperability. Not every current passport is an ePassport and not every ePassport can be read by every other country. For these reasons, the new service is only available to Norwegians.

It makes sense to move incrementally on these things and to tackle challenges a few at a time.

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