Biometrics and business travel

See how biometrics can transform and streamline business travel

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Year after year, biometrics are enhancing the border-control industry with a plethora of new and impressive technologies. These serve to guarantee security, improve the passenger experience and dramatically cut down waiting times — a blessing for business travellers who regularly find themselves having to go through airports. However, these new, non-intrusive systems also raise the issue of personal data and privacy. 

What are biometrics?

The emergence of biometrics is gradually transforming the 'passenger experience' in airports, making it faster, less stressful and safer, all at the same time. Far from just taking digital fingerprints individual by individual, which used to be done as part of a police investigation, increasingly efficient and non-invasive systems have since materialised. Today, these systems take the form of iris capture and face or voice recognition.

The French National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL) defines biometrics as 'a set of computerised techniques that can be used to automatically recognise an individual based on physical, biological and even behavioural characteristics.' And with four billion air passengers in 2017, it’s no wonder that authorities need to keep tabs on just who exactly is crossing the border, and to be able to quickly determine if a person is authorised to do so. Perhaps most surprising today is the speed of testing phases.

In 2015, Alaska Airlines launched a check based on digital fingerprinting technology for access to airport business lounges and for boarding the plane without having to show your passport. Schipol Airport and the airline KLM are planning to roll out a face-recognition kiosk in 2018 specially for 'biometric boarding'. Similarly, Air France is set to launch its 'selfie ID' technology, which will use the traveller's photo on their smartphone. The photo is authenticated by associating it with their passport's NFC chip.  

Speed at the expense of data?

Business travellers are regulars at airports around the world and pass through dozens of controls every year. Therefore, they will be only too happy to see new 'on the fly' devices that make boarding their flight less of a hassle. Are they ready to give up their personal data to the authorities, carriers or airports, just so they can get through security more quickly and easily? Most, at any rate, expect promising developments.

The main issue at the moment is knowing whether the data used is stored or not. The fact that data is being stored and protected by official bodies and private organisations certainly doesn’t reassure everyone, and is currently a matter of debate.      

What the future holds

In any case, it looks as though business travellers will become increasingly independent thanks to 'self-service' biometrics. They will go through automatic check-in kiosks and use automated bag drops; everyone will have a biometric passport, so they can check themselves in and cut down on waiting times.
In airports of the future, traditional security facilities are highly likely to be a thing of the past for passengers, without there being any less security in place. Business travellers will no longer be put under pressure by endless controls, and biometrics will help them gain precious time, which they can then use to plan their next trip.      

Published by Magali on 26/01/2018 Photo credit: © Neustockimages

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