Is it still a dream to have a paperless airport that can be crossed by biometrical traveller recognition instead of showing a boarding pass and a passport? MODI doesn’t think so.

The dramatic increase of passenger traffic in airports causes many challenges in terms of security, operations and user satisfaction at all control points like check in, terminal entrance, security check, border control and boarding.

It is not rare to witness overcrowded waiting lines in front of understaffed control points, while illegal-entrant numbers continue to surge across the globe, by using sophisticated fake documents. This calls for increased security features in the documents, but also for a more efficient and reliable way of checking these features.

The gradual introduction of the electronic passport (e-passport) is a crucial first step and will enable border-control security to be enhanced and operations to be automated. With seamless biometrical face-recognition camera technology, a paperless airport can be a reality. Instead of showing the boarding pass and/or ID documents to authorities or scanning documents at a self-service terminal, travellers could be identified on the move by their face biometrics in a very comfortable and user-friendly way. The process includes:

  • Check-in: passenger check-in at a kiosk; reading e-passport data and biometrics data from the chip (face/fingerprint); biometric passenger verification with e-passport data at the kiosk; capturing of actual biometrics, generating and storing of a robust template (face token) in a local temporary database; liveness check to prevent spoofing; and a check of the watch list in SIS.
  • Baggage drop off (manual or automated): passenger identified by biometric identification; no showing of paper boarding pass necessary; the automated baggage drop off is 100% secured – only the owner of the boarding pass can drop off the baggage.
  • Security check: passenger passes the boarding pass check with biometric identification; no showing of a paper boarding pass is necessary; passenger goes through security check (boarding pass check is integrated in security check point as access control).
  • Border control: passenger crosses the border control through an ABC (automated border control) gate with biometric identification; no showing of a passport is necessary.
  • Boarding: passenger embarks the aircraft with biometric identification; data in the temporary database is deleted automatically upon actual time of departure or after 24 hours; exceptions can be made in different countries that have a data-exchange regulation following the local data privacy law. In these cases, the passenger data is transferred to the arrival airport and can be used for the immigration process. That means that even at the arrival airport, ABC gates for automated border control can be used without showing the passport.

This kind of process – using the face to cross different check points instead of using the boarding pass and passport – has a lot of benefits. The ‘paperless airport’ is more convenient for the passenger and includes acceleration of the travel process. By saving time, the traveller can relax and still be assured of high security measures.

A benefit for all involved

With this technology in place, the airline can have a higher grade of automation that enables a more efficient use of resources and reduction of costs. The earlier data is exchanged with public authorities, the earlier clearance can be initiated.

Public authorities have the chance for a risk assessment prior to departure; thus, the level of security can be increased. Early knowledge of passenger data can simplify the process for low-risk passengers and shift resources to problematic passengers.

The airport becomes more attractive to passengers through the innovative processes, including cost reduction through automation. This is complemented by the reduction of queuing time with a higher process speed.

The prerequisite for a paperless airport is only the requirement to read e-passports at check-in kiosks combined with a biometric check and generation of an actual stable-face template of the passport owner. These kiosks need interfaces to the departure-control systems of the airlines and to the public authorities. The automatic-access control is done by biometric face-recognition cameras at all check points.

The intuitive user guidance of the MODI check-in and ID kiosk has outstanding usability combined with a very high security level. Counterfeit and liveness detection is integrated together with face recognition and an optional fingerprint reader to check the passenger ID against the face/fingerprints on the passport chip. Additional cameras generate a robust face and iris template under visible and NIR illumination. This makes it possible to have a safe and fast ID check at all subsequent check points independent of different internal or external light situations.

For all ID-points like the terminal entrance, security check, border control or boarding, the MODI FaceBridge ID system can realise a crossing speed of more than 700 passengers an hour. Instead of moving a camera to make a height adjustment of the passenger, the images from the FaceBridge cameras are taken through a mirror, moving quickly through a magnetic field. From this, multiple images are taken at a very high speed, with optimal quality, and that is why people can be checked-in ‘on the move’, without stopping or no longer walking normally.