By Mohammed Murad
The challenges of maintaining U.S. airport security continue to grow annually as do the number of passengers.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of passengers flown by air carriers increased by 4.8%, to top more than 1 billion, during fiscal year 2018.
At any time during peak operational periods, nearly 5,400 flights are in U.S. airspace.
Various federal and local law enforcement agencies are charged with maintaining security at nearly 20,000 public and private domestic airports.
As more people crowd into terminals, the logistic and security challenges for airport managers, airline operators, government and other inter-agency partners increases.
The current U.S. passenger screening method, begun in the early 1970s in response to airplane highjackings, has been very successful from a security point of view.
Yet, the process is frequently criticized, particularly by passengers, for the long lines to complete the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-run security checkpoint process.
Without changes, these lines will only get worse.
This is a crisis facing airport officials as they look for safe and secure ways to move passengers quickly from the terminal curb through the boarding gate.
Technology upgrades are a major piece of any solution.
New technology has reduced the need for manual inspections of carry-on luggage.
However, those improvements have done nothing to speed passenger transit through ticketing, bag drops and security checkpoints.
Biometrics (iris, fingerprint and facial recognition) can be a game changer.
A TSA agent looking at a passenger’s driver’s license with its aging photograph can no longer be counted on to reliably determine identity.
Biometrics, however, can provide highly accurate ID authentication very quickly.
That’s why more major airports around the world are already installing biometric solutions.
The number of biometric units being used is expected to double by 2022.
What’s driving this growing demand? The cost of solutions has dropped.
The technologies have matured and been proven to work by government agencies and private industry.
Consumers are increasingly familiar and comfortable with biometrics. They use similar technology every day to authenticate identity on their smartphones.
The first step is to automate the ID/boarding pass check.
Biometric-equipped self-serve kiosks are ideal for the travel document checker (TDC) process and will free many TSA agents to assist with other airport security operations.
While TDC kiosks are already in a few foreign airports, pilot projects at several U.S. airports won’t begin until this year.
Which biometric is best suited for use in a crowded airport? Each of the three major technologies has advantages.
But iris recognition systems have been proven to provide the fastest and most accurate identity authentication results while better maintaining passenger privacy.
Tests have shown that augmenting current security checkpoint practices with iris readers could reduce passenger wait time to only five seconds.
The iris, the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil, has 240 points of recognition – far more than fingerprint and facial technologies.
Also, every iris is unique.
That leads to fewer false positives involving members of the same ethnic backgrounds and even identical twins and other genetically related family members.
And since the iris, barring injury, remains unchanged during a person’s lifetime, children can be enrolled in an airport identity authentication system while still infants.
Iris-based systems are already being used by the Department of Homeland Security’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database that’s shared with state and local law enforcement and some foreign governments.
Other interagency uses of iris technology include a soon-to-be completed pilot study by the FBI and the Department of Defense’s Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).
Each month, tens of thousands of immigrants cross U.S. northern and southern borders.
Every person is enrolled in an iris system with the scans stored in the HART and FBI databases and presented to ABIS for potential matching.
After many years of work, the HART, FBI and ABIS databases now communicate with each other, increasing security along borders and at airport customs stations.
Iris recognition in use
Major airports around the world are already using iris-based recognition systems from industry-leader Iris ID.
Here are a few examples:
Nexus, a program jointly operated by the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection expedites the airport clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travelers between the two countries.
There are currently more than 1 million enrolled travelers.
Iris ID has a contract to supply the technology and self-serve kiosks to accommodate up to 2.5 million people.
Doha, Qatar’s Hammad International Airport enrolls new passengers into an iris-based verification system.
The system can match more than 12 million records in less than a second.
Qatar’s Ministry of Interior started the world’s first passport program to store compressed iris images on ePassports.
CLEAR, a private service enables pre-approved passengers in 28 U.S. airports (also some stadiums and arenas) to quickly complete the security screening process in seconds using Iris ID-equipped kiosks.
The Netherland’s Amsterdam Airport Schiphol PRIVIUM program expedites border crossings for those passengers paying about $250 annually to clear customs in about 30 seconds, as opposed to an average of 4 minutes for those in non-PRIVIUM lines.
The same iris-based systems being deployed at checkpoints and customs desks will soon become vital components used to heighten security from the curb and throughout international and regional airports.
Kiosks will read passports and complete iris scans for flight check-ins and bag drops.
As passengers move through the terminal, they will again use iris scanners to move past automated security checkpoints.
Airlines will use the same system at gates for one final passenger ID verification before boarding an airplane.
As of summer 2018, there were 2,500 operational automated passport control kiosks being used in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific.
That number is expected to nearly double by the end of this year.
Additional installations soon will lead to global standards and a universal biometric.
Today’s choke points will be largely eliminated. The airport experience will become frictionless.
For more information on how iris recognition systems are being used for air travel, national ID programs, mobile identification solutions, border control, time and attendance and access control, visit the Iris ID website.
About the Author
Mohammed Murad has over 25 years of experience in the field of iris recognition technologies, and has served as Vice President of Global Sales & Business Development for Cranbury, N.J.-based Iris ID for 18 years.
Iris ID, a leading global provider of iris recognition technology, has been recognized in the Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program Three Times.
Iris ID Takes Platinum in Third Annual ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards
(Learn More about Iris ID products and applications. The company’s IrisAccess® is the world’s leading deployed iris recognition platform and is used in thousands of locations authenticating the identities of millions of people daily. Courtesy of Iris ID and YouTube.
Best Facial/IRIS Recognition Solution
iCAM 7S Series
iCAM 7S Series biometric Iris Recognition Reader for Access Control to secure sites, time and attendance solutions, transportation and workforce mgmt solutions.
Iris ID was also a 2018 and 2016 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program Winner.
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Iris ID has been active in iris recognition research, development and production since 1997, and is a global provider of iris recognition solutions.
The company’s IrisAccess® is the world’s leading deployed iris recognition platform and is used in thousands of locations authenticating the identities of millions of people daily.
To Learn More, please visit, www.irisid.com.
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