Biometric identification is beginning to transform airports, which is why Finavia is looking for the right system.
Imagine that the year is 2021 and you are leaving for a trip. You sign into the airport’s biometric facial recognition system before leaving home using your smartphone.
When you arrive at the airport, you show your passport to the system. After that, you don’t need your travel documents again; instead, all identification will be done using facial recognition.
This is the vision that the Finnish airport operator Finavia has in mind. The only problem is, it’s yet to find the right system provider.
“When you arrive at the check-in counter, you will be identified by facial recognition and the employee will greet you by name,” envisions Matti Lehto, Finavia’s head of ops digitalisation.
“You will have time for genuine interaction, as the employee will not have to enter information on the computer and stare at the screen.”
Alternatively, automated check-in will identify you using facial recognition, print your baggage tags and give you voice instructions on which gate to go to.
Biometric identification of passengers is coming to airports and is already in use at Schiphol in Amsterdam and Changi in Singapore. But “those systems cannot be used to sign in beforehand at home, however, as we would like,” Lehto notes.
Finavia’s next step is to find the right system provider, but it says that no provider has a ready-made service suitable for the purpose. And because it’s such a major investment, “the provider must be selected carefully through competitive tendering”.
In addition, “the most decisive questions are related to data processing,” Lehto says. “The data must be stored in one place that is connected to the systems used by the different parties operating at the airport.”
But the solution must allow ownership of the data to remain with the system user – the passenger – thinks Lehto, and for the service provider to be able to access only the information required to produce its service. In this way, the operators would not store individual persons’ data and transparency would be ensured.