Verify on the fly: managing identities in the aviation industry

19th February 2019

Verify on the fly: managing identities in the aviation industry

Ever increasing requirements regarding data privacy and customer experiences will foster the need for new, global solutions to ensure the simple, secure and reliable management of digital identities.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) cross‐border travel will grow by 50 per cent over the next decade to reach 1.8 billion international arrivals by 2030. Today’s connected customers expect seamless, all‐online sign‐up and authentication processes – whether they are joining a social platform, registering for a mobile phone subscription, opening a bank account or travelling for business.

Airlines and airports need to adapt to the challenge of heightened security whilst providing a positive customer experience for a population expecting a seamless passenger journey – at present delivered by, on average, 20 separate companies according to industry technology body SITA.

Most airlines fulfil security requirements through manual ID document checks at the gates. According to New Zealand Air, about 550 of its customers per month show up for flights with an expired passport, while about 10 per cent incorrectly type in passport information during online check‐in.

In an industry that demands high speed and efficiency, how can automated identification through AI‐driven biometrics security technologies increase operational performance, enhance the customer journey and even give airlines and airports the competitive edge?

Last year, the WEF worked with Accenture to outline the Known Traveller Digital Identity concept which suggested traveller‐managed digital identities, so that governments, airlines, airports and passengers can conduct pre‐vetting risk assessment to speed up journey time for the majority of passengers and allow security officials to focus on identifying threats.

In the 2001 sci‐fi thriller Minority Report, Tom Cruise had his identify checked with rapid iris scans from a distance. Technology like this is already in place at some airports – and will have rolled out to most large hubs over the next two to three years. “Low risk travellers should be able to walk through processes without having to take off their belts or haul their laptops out while knowing that you and your fellow passengers are safe if we are to benefit from the GDP growth increased global travel offers,” explains Richard Cook, business travel consultant and former Wallpaper editorial director.

A November 2018 survey of cybersecurity investments by airports and airlines showed that they were spending $3.9 billion in 2018, with identity/access management one of the top priorities. In airports around the world, biometrics are being deployed to manage identity recognition and reduce bottleneck touch points.

China, for instance, is investing heavily in facial recognition technology at Beijing’s new Zaha Hadid‐designed $12 billion airport – using biometric computer applications to automatically identify an individual from a database of digital images. Versions of this are already in use in China to help authorities spot suspected criminals and jaywalkers as well as allowing access to luxury residential areas and car rental transactions. For the airport’s expected 100 million passengers, identity verification through computer vision will also match passengers to their belongings, so that unattended baggage is easily tracked.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is rolling out a system across 15 U.S. airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield‐Jackson, Boston’s Logan, Los Angeles’s LAX, and New York’s JFK, where passengers can have their picture taken and, once their identity is confirmed against stored images, board the plane.


British Airways trialled this system at Orlando International Airport last year, using two biometric gates to scan customers on the daily flight from Orlando to Gatwick. British Airways says it has been able to board about 240 people in just ten minutes. Now airlines are introducing mobile technology to capture passenger biometrics – Air New Zealand, Air India, United and Aegeanair have all introduced mobile apps that can scan passports and fingerprints to confirm traveller’s identity. Delta Air Lines has even launched the first wholly biometric airline terminal in the U.S. at Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal in Atlanta.

“Customers have an expectation that experiences along their journey are easy and happen seamlessly — that’s what we’re aiming for,” Delta COO, Gil West, said of the deployment. Privacy and data, of course, are hot topics today but passengers are keen to embrace a smoother journey. The British Airways/Orlando trial was purely voluntary and almost 100 per cent of passengers agreed to take part.

The new services extend beyond the immigration hall. In December 2018, car rental company Hertz launched Hertz Fast Lane — an airport exit gate operated by biometric security company Clear — at Hartsfield‐Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Travellers arrive at the Hertz lot, select their car and check out by driving to the exit gate, rolling down the window and showing their face to the biometric kiosk. The process should take about 30 seconds, according to Hertz, reducing time taken to collect a rental car by 75 per cent.

Clear already operates at 40 U.S. airports – its members pay an annual fee for access to a special airport kiosk where boarding pass and iris are scanned. Both Clear members and Hertz Gold Card holders are eligible for Hertz Fast Lane, which is rolling out to all Clear airports over 2019.

Customers have an expectation that experiences along their journey are easy and happen seamlessly

- Gil West, Delta COO

Airline and airports deliver a multitude of services that require secure identification from booking an airline ticket to transportation to the airport, check in, boarding and baggage handling, to carpark vehicle identification and secure car rental, travel portals, airlines and airports are all looking for a seamless process – services available via apps and online portals which constantly expand what’s possible whilst staying compliant with Know‐Your‐Customer (KYC) regulations.

Airlines are the key players and early adopters – and can overcome distrust between governments as a neutral third party. G+D Mobile Security’s Convego®me secure remote identification (SRI) helps capture and check data from an ID document like a national ID card or passport through passenger’s personal mobile devices. Together with the technology partner IDnow, G+D Mobile Security provides a flexible, intuitive and customer‐friendly identification solution based on a single platform. The StarSign mobile authentication suite uses this to authenticate passengers through the rest of the journey.

“Using deep neural networks, the Convego®me platform can perform automated validity checks for documents with embedded security features such as holograms, allowing for self‐service identification within less than 90 seconds,” explains Marco‐ Michael Boje, senior business development manager at G+D Mobile Security. “We focus on automation wherever possible to increase the quality of service while reducing costs at the same time. You can seamlessly integrate our solution into existing airline apps including all customizations on iOS and Android. End users are not required to download an additional ident app.”

With international travel set to only increase further in the coming years, end consumers desire a seamless customer experience throughout the identification and authentication process. G+D Mobile Security can fulfil this desire on its mission to make digital life as convenient as possible, with no compromise on security.

Find out more here.

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