Digital COVID Travel Passes: Biometrics & Facial Recognition Ensure Airline Passenger Health Worldwide

“Global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74%,” according to the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Facial recognition software and biometrics are being used at local and international airports worldwide to get travelers back into the air. Due to the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, the tourism industry was plagued by a sharp decline (nearly 1 billion fewer air travelers worldwide according to statistics from the UNWTO). As the government eases travel restrictions, the focus now turns to answering the question of how to streamline the process of verifying customers’ vaccination status, negative PCR test Verification results, and identities. Boarding passengers as quickly as possible, as safely as possible, and making sure those who are COVID positive don’t board is a tough task to say the least. Facial Recognition Software and biometrics have popularized the process of “touchless travel” which includes the use of biometrics and facial recognition to verify the identity and health status of air passengers. Government travel regulations and recommendations from the International Air Travel Association (IATA) have prompted many of these innovative changes.

What Are Digital COVID Travel Passes & Which Airports Use Them?

Facial recognition and biometrics are being rolled out across the globe at many international airports. In addition to this innovative approach to PCR test result verification, travel associations and governments are also implementing digital COVID travel passes. IBM says these passes, “enable businesses to verify health credentials for employees, customers, fans and travelers entering their site based on their own criteria.” Airports Currently Using Digital COVID Travel Passes:

  • France: Paris-CDG & Paris-Orly
  • Dubai: Dubai International Airport (DXB)
  • United States: Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
  • Japan: Haneda Airports
  • Brazil: Florianópolis Airport
  • Singapore: Changi Airport

Biometrics & Facial Recognition Ensure Airline Passenger Health Worldwide

Biometrics, Digital Apps, & Facial Recognition Add Security & Speed To Security Lanes Worldwide

As the travel industry returns to semi-normal conditions, major glitches still impede smooth travel for passengers. Long lines and wait times were the norms at security checkpoints even before this crisis began. Thanks to the adoption of biometrics, facial recognition technology and digital travel pass apps, that is rapidly changing. COVID Health Travels such as CommonPass, IBM’s Digital Health Pass, and many more are available for uses to download. These digital apps streamline the boarding and security checkpoint processes.

Facial Recognition Technology Speeds Up Boarding Time & COVID Health Screening

According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made progress testing and Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) at ports of entry to create entry-exit records for foreign nationals as part of its Biometric Entry-Exit Program. As of May 2020, CBP, in partnership with airlines, deployed FRT to 27 airports to biometrically confirm travelers’ identities as they depart the United States (airexit) and was in the early stages of assessing FRT at sea and land ports of entry.” The results of a recent controlled scenario test by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) showed that facial recognition reached up to 96% accuracy which is a useful statistic for those in favor of this technology. Additionally, the GAO notes, “According to TSA officials, automating current identity verification capabilities through the use of facial recognition technology has the potential to improve this process by better identifying impostors, or travelers using valid travel identification documents for fraudulent purposes at the checkpoint.” Facial recognition and using biometric technology have the potential to improve the lives of millions and deter bad actors at the outset. IDMscan, IDMerit’s flagship identity verification tool, can help your compliance team leverage facial recognition and biometrics to streamline your identity verification program. Examples of biometric technology include:

  • Iris recognition
  • Fingerprint scanning
  • Facial recognition
  • Finger-geometry recognition
  • Hand-geometry recognition

Thermal Facial Recognition & Remote Fever Detection Detect PCR Status

Thermal facial recognition and remote fever detection are used regularly by Airport security and CBP officers to ensure travelers are not currently suffering from symptoms of COVID. According to the Oxford Journal of Law and the Biosciences, “[a]mong a growing list of COVID-19 symptoms, fever (defined as a body temperature above 100.4°F/38°C) is one of the tell–tale symptoms of infection. As the pandemic has gained momentum, government agencies and corporations are increasingly turning to fever checks as a mechanism for gauging the potential presence of SARS–CoV-2 among citizens, travelers, and employees.”

Airports in France, UK, and Japan First To Adopt Digital Health Travel Passes

France Uses Facial Recognition & Digital App To Determine Negative PCR Test Results

France became the first EU country to implement an app-based COVID Health Travel Pass. According to American Airlines(AA), this feature on the government’s TousAntiCovid app allows “users to upload antigen or PCR tests by scanning a QR code on the test result form.” Additionally, AA goes on to state, “A negative test result can be used for limited air travel to Corsica on Air France and Air Corsica flights and to overseas territories beginning at the end of May.” Common features of COVID digital health travel apps include:

  • upload antigen or PCR tests
  • Third-party data sharing
  • Upload digital photographs
  • Cryptography protects personally identifiable (PII) data

British Airways Adopts Self Boarding as COVID Crisis Continues

Self-boarding has been underway at Heathrow during the pandemic but recently British Airways has also begun to adopt self-boarding or “touchless travel” procedures. The EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) was approved and is expected to enable travel within the EU in early July. The EUDCC will be, “proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection.”

Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport recently implemented digital COVID travel passes and continued the mandatory use of masks in some areas of the airport. “Pre-COVID-19, passengers, on average, spending about 1.5 hours in travel processes for every journey, the organization suggested. The time included check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim,” Alarabiya News reported. Over the last six months, 154,000 travelers have used Dubai International Airport’s biometric system to prove their COVID vaccination or current negative PCR test results. Other international implementations of facial recognition and biometrics include:

  • Japan: Face Express, a new facial recognition system is being launched throughout Japanese airports this July
  • Brazil: Florianópolis airport is also preparing to integrate facial recognition into its processes in July

Privacy Still Up For Debate

Facial biometrics legislation is still being debated but some privacy think tanks are lobbying to “give people the information they need to accurately decide how they want to share their facial data with companies. It also gives them control over how their facial information is shared with companies that use facial biometric identity verification. The goal of the legislation is to prevent consumer-focused facial recognition Software companies from mismanaging people’s facial data.” Despite privacy concerns, identity verification and digital COVID travel passes are now the norms, not the exception.

IDMscan: Fast, Secure, & Global Identity Verification Solution

IDMscan can authenticate and verify government-issued identity documents in online and offline conditions. It is a part of several identity fraud solutions that IDMERIT has created which offer fraud detection before it happens. Our document verification solution provides powerful security in the airline industry, at home and abroad.

  • Multi-Language support
  • Integrate seamlessly with IDMaml and IDMdevice
  • Easily integrate into your system with a simple API
  • Biometric facial recognition & face liveliness technologies are used to produce a live match
  • Validate your customers in less than 6 seconds we can validate Passports, Drivers Licenses and National ID’s from 175+ countries
  • Indigenously built Deepfake recognition and liveness recognition models with the highest degree of accuracy in the world

Contact one of our identity specialists to Schedule a Demo of IDMscan today.

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Headquartered in San Diego, California, IDMERIT provides an ecosystem of identity verification solutions designed to help its customers prevent fraud, meet regulatory compliance and deliver frictionless user experiences. The company is committed to the ongoing development and delivery of offerings that are more cost-effective and comprehensive than other solution providers. IDMERIT was funded by experts who have been sourcing data on personal and business identities across the globe for over a decade. This access to official and trusted data throughout the world has become increasingly important as companies find themselves completing transactions across borders as a standard course of business.

Jay Raol
Jay Raol

Jay Raol has been a Media Manager, Entrepreneur, Political Analyst and an Environmentalist. He aspires to climb the mighty Himalayas, and learn a new language every year. He lives in the beautiful city of Carlsbad in Southern California and owns a great collection of books. He is on schedule to publish his first book; 'Thou Art, Dope'. Co-founded two companies that provide futuristic solutions to the world while being quite enthusiastic about helping and investing in technology startups.

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