Biometrics to safeguard public health in new airport guidelines

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (UK)

Global travel feeds the economy on many levels. Now as some regions and industries are looking to carefully reopen from stay-at-home orders and quarantines, the air travel industry is looking to ensure employee and customer health and safety while getting people back into the air.

Recently, the ICAO ( International Civil Aviation Organization) issued guidelines to help aviation regulators and operators support air travel. The guidelines emphasize the use of more touchless technologies throughout airports and airplanes. They point to the use of contactless biometrics – like iris recognition – for checking-in people and baggage at airport entrances. This means passengers and airport personnel would encounter fewer surfaces that could harbour harmful pathogens.

These technologies are already being used in airports around the world. Clear, a premium expedited traveller identification company, operates kiosks in 32+ U.S. airports and sporting venues. These kiosks allow participating passengers to skip long TSA lines using their fingerprints or irises to pass through security.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes our lives forever, so will the reliance on “contactless” access control and time and attendance systems, migrating from keys, cards and codes to safer COVID-19 Compliant solutions employing Iris Recognition and Identification based biometric technology.

Aditech and its partners have devised such solutions based on the company's offering of reliable, accurate, tried and tested devices, flexible solutions that can be applied to many crucial applications and in most high-footfall environments.

During the COVID-19 crisis the company has asked its members to use the iris option instead of fingerprints. Using fingerprints would require wiping down and sanitising devices after each use considerably slowing passenger processing. According to Aditech, Clear has been a major success and its technology is now being used in many sporting and event stadiums/venues.

For example, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Netherland’s capital city airport, also uses Aditech's iris biometric technology offering European Union nationals expedited border crossing with its PRIVIUM programme since 2003. Passengers pay €250 annually to use their irises to clear customs and cross the border in about 30 seconds as opposed to an average of 4 minutes in a non-PRIVIUM line. The programme also includes preferential parking, a members’ lounge and check-in assistance.

Security and convenience have been major catalysts for the adoption of digital identity and biometrics in air travel. Moving large numbers of people through airports quickly and safely has been the industry’s mission. And now, according to Aditech, COVID-19 will also be a major consideration in the implementation of travel technologies. Contactless biometrics, like iris recognition, can provide the benefits of digital identity while safeguarding public health and safety.


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