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: San Jose airport/Alaska Airlines test program for fingerprint boarding

Alaska Airlines: Fingerprints replace boarding passes (Desert Sun)

Those who signed up for the test went through an enrollment process that took about 20 minutes. After that, they were permitted to use their fingerprints to access the TSA screening area through the CLEAR lane. Fingerprint readers at the boarding gates were able to pull up a passenger’s boarding pass for the gate agent to review.

“The feedback was very positive,” said Tolzman. “On a survey scale of ‘dissatisfied’ to ‘delighted’ over 85 percent of the participants were delighted with the system.”

With the Colorado Rockies stadium access, that’s news of two innovative CLEAR deployments in two days.

US: Biometric entry-exit system getting off the ground in Atlanta

Fingerprint scanner tested on foreigners leaving Atlanta (Security Info Watch)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers began using the devices last week to scan some foreign passengers on selected flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Evanitsky said Tuesday. The test will be expanded in the fall to airports in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington.

The US Congress first required such a system in a law passed in 1996.

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.

TSA ‘PreCheck’ expansion expected to enroll 88,000 in six months (Los Angeles Times)

Starting later this year, the TSA will allow all travelers who pay a $85 fee and submit background information, including fingerprints, to qualify for the program for five years.

In a report filed this week, the TSA estimated that 88,111 travelers would apply for the program in the first six months, with an additional 383,131 fliers applying in the following year.

The vetting process will take two to three weeks, the TSA said.

Face rec for quality assurance

Edinburgh Airport installs biometric system to track passenger movements (Computerworld UK)

An anonymous facial image is taken of each passenger as they check in and the time it takes each to reach certain waypoints plotted over time. If this time breaches a pre-set parameter for enough passengers, alerts can be generated.

The principle is that moving passengers from check in to the terminal increases their satisfaction with that airport and boosts the amount of time they have to spend money in the retail outlets that generate profit for airports.

The system can also be used to track the movement of passengers through the airport as a whole.

This is another really interesting application for facial recognition technology and, unlike other uses of face technology better described as demographic detection, this one actually is a true face recognition application.

Although it is a true face recognition application, it isn’t really an ID application so long as the facial image taken at the time of passenger is not linked to other personal information and it is deleted after the person reaches the “finish line.”

The item of interest to airports in this case is the length of time it takes real individuals to travel through various points between check in and the jetway. It’s a more sophisticated measure than a simple count and real-world measurement wasn’t easily automated before face recognition technology.

Airports in the UK have been early adopters of face recognition for this application because they are held to certain performance metrics (and subject to fines) for airport throughput. Having accurate real-time information on passenger flows can inform on-the-fly staffing decisions. For example, additional security screeners can be dispatched in the event a slow-down is detected, saving passenger time and the airport money.

Though airports have been early adopters, this basic application has obvious utility in shopping malls, department stores, planning for emergency evacuations, and large facility scheduling.

SecurLinx has experience in the design and deployment of this type of system. Our FaceTrac system is readily adapted to the challenge of on-the-fly enrollment, finish-line matching, reporting, and automatically purging image data.

US: Entry/exit dominating today’s biometrics news

An amendment to the immigration bill being discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee has been all over the news this morning.

See:
Senators propose fingerprinting at airport security (Click Orlando), and
US senators approve immigration changes requiring fingerprint system at 30 airports (Truth Dive)

This Reuters piece is more detailed:
US panel votes to speed up airport fingerprinting of immigrants (Reuters)

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 for an amendment to a wide-ranging immigration bill that would require the installation of devices to check immigrants’ fingerprints at the 10 busiest U.S. airports within two years of enactment of the legislation.

Checks currently are made at airports for foreigners arriving and re-entering the country but not when they leave. “It’s just a matter of having records we can keep so we know where we’re going,” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah told reporters of his successful amendment.

The committee’s work commands worldwide attention because it’s personal to many people because of their own travel habits, aspirations for immigration or education, or the living situation of friends or loved-ones.

It is also of worldwide importance because the United States will have a large role to play in any eventual interoperable international system accounting for international travel.

The amendment adopted by the committee would, in the event of the bill’s passage, institute a fingerprint-based entry/exit system starting with the ten busiest U.S. airports over two years.

The best framing I have read of the lack of-, case for-, and challenges associated with a decent entry/exit system is David Grant’s Immigration reform: What to do about those who arrive legally but never leave?

And in March, we wrote:

[… R]elevant to integrating the entry and exit points is the percentage of international travelers who enter a country through one international travel node and depart the country from another.

The more nodes, the more travelers, the more complex the travel patterns of international visitors, all of these things place additional pressures on any sort of entry/exit system and these complexities don’t necessarily increase as a linear function.

Of course all of this has bearing on the United States which has every challenge there is. It’s not surprising that, biometrics or no biometrics, the US lacks a comprehensive integrated entry/exit system. A couple of good pilot projects might go a long way towards getting an idea of the exact scope of some of the challenges, though. [emph. added]

With that in mind, does the committee’s amendment fit in with the idea of a “good pilot” project? I think so. Despite reluctance to call anything happening in the ten busiest airports in the country a “pilot project,” so as not to trivialize the challenges involved, the scope of a truly comprehensive entry/exit system accounting for all air, sea and land transport is so vast that it does make “pilot project” seem appropriate here.

But in order for this avenue to a pilot actually to lead there, even in two years, the whole immigration bill currently being fashioned in the Judiciary Committee must pass the full U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Even if the broader immigration overhaul fails to attract majority legislative support, the 13-5 committee vote may bode well for the pilot on a stand-alone basis. You have to start somewhere.

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.

Biometrics for convenience and security

Air travellers frustrated by security checks: IATA study (The Hindu)

The Survey, which included passengers from 114 countries who had travelled by air in the last 12 months, was released late Thursday in Geneva. The participating countries include India, China, US, Canada, UAE, Ukraine, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq.

Among the respondents of the survey, 77 per cent were comfortable to use biometric identification for more convenient airport transit and 71 per cent would prefer to use a self-boarding device at the gate, such as a mobile phone.

An even greater majority (86 per cent) were prepared to provide the airline their passport details in advance to allow a smoother journey. While only a quarter of the respondents have ever used an automated immigration border gate on arrival at an airport using their ePassport or ID card, as high as 91 per cent said they would be interested in such a service to allow a faster arrival process.

There is little to no privacy in international travel. Many people just want to be able to complete the ID processes relied upon by security professionals with a little less hassle.

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