Face recognition-based authentication system set to takeoff at Indian airports

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on February 21, 2019

Digi Yatra platform will be ready by month end

Earlier this month, passengers flying from Miami in the US to Munich in Germany on a Lufthansa flight did not need boarding passes or a passport. They boarded their flight after their faces were scanned and their identity confirmed.

A partnership between Lufthansa, Miami International Airport, the US Customs and Border Protection, and aviation IT solutions provider SITA enabled the confirmation of passengers’ identities using a photograph taken at the boarding gate.

SITA’s Smart Path technology integrates with government systems and databases to authenticate passengers during airport check-ins and border checks. SITA told BusinessLine that it integrated automated boarding gates with the US Customs and Border Protection and airlines’ IT systems to allow necessary checks and authorise boarding using Smart Path.

Smart Path show the way

“This biometric exit check has already been introduced at Boston Logan Airport with JetBlue, Orlando International Airport with British Airways and now at Miami with Lufthansa. Both Orlando and Miami airports plan to make this solution available to other airlines in the near future,” Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice-President-Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Africa, SITA said.

Digi Yatra

However, it will not be too long before we see paper-less boarding at Indian airports. With the Digi Yatra initiative, Indian passengers can board flights with biometric authentication.

According to the Centre, the Digi Yatra platform will be ready by the end of February. Bengaluru, the aerospace capital of India and the host of the Aero India show, will be one of the first airports in the country to implement Digi Yatra, along with the Hyderabad airport.

The security requirements for such a biometric checking process are determined by government agencies responsible for border control, Jaikrishna said. “SITA’s technology integrates with these government systems and databases, enabling integrated immigration and border checks,” he added.

According to SITA, it is already in talks with several airlines and airports to introduce Smart Path in India. “A key benefit of Smart Path is that it integrates with our existing common-use infrastructure — the check-in kiosks and the boarding gates. This makes it easy and cost effective to implement,” Jaikrishna said.

The Centre’s Digi Yatra initiative uses existing government ID proofs like Aadhaar to authenticate passengers. Government IDs such as Aadhaar, driving licence and voter ID can be used to create a Digi Yatra ID.

“Leveraging India’s national Aadhaar biometric identity system with our proven common-use and Smart Path technology, SITA will be able to deliver a seamless biometric experience across all airlines and airports,” said Jaikrishna.

Published on February 21, 2019

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