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Walking with the fishes makes airport security a breeze

Mar 8, 2018

More than 80 million travellers passed through Dubai International Airport in 2017, a figure to expected to reach 124 million by 2020, making it one of the busiest in the world.

This bustling international transport hub now looks set to revolutionise border security with the launch of a biometric smart tunnel later this year. Unveiled at the GITEX Technology Week show in October 2017 , the tunnel is the first of its kind and was devised in response to both the huge swell in passenger numbers and the ever-present threat of terrorism. It promises to cut border processing times to just 15 seconds, whilst significantly hardening airport security at the same time.

How it works

Lining the inside of the tunnel, carefully concealed behind video screens displaying a virtual aquarium, are 80 face and iris-scanning biometric cameras. The high quality images of fish not only serve as an aesthetically pleasing background but also catch the person’s attention, thus enabling their biometric data to be captured as they walk through. When they reach the end, the registered traveller will either receive a green message that says “have a nice trip” or if something is wrong, the operations team will be alerted by a red signal to intervene, according to Dubai-based newspaper The National.

Major Khalid Al Felasi, assistant general director of Smart Services in GDRFA-Dubai, told Gulf News that passenger registration would be possible at self-service kiosks in the airport, as well as in Tesla electric cars bringing passengers to the airport: “The
car will collect passengers’ information, including the weight of the luggage, on the way to the airport and will deliver the boarding pass in the car itself. It is all done by the smartphone.”

Single-token travel

Leading the charge in future travel, however, is Australia’s very own Brisbane Airport, which already has SITA Smart Path™ technology up and running. The trial, which has been implemented in a partnership between SITA and Air New Zealand, streamlines the entire boarding process down to just a single registration at check-in. Travel documents and passport are linked to a passenger’s biometric data and this is then used to create, ‘ single token ’ which is read at a touch point when they board the plane.

SITA Smart Path™ is designed to integrate with multiple common-use airline systems and government systems, making it easy to implement internationally. In fact, SITA’s passenger processing applications are used by more than over 165 airlines and their common-use systems board more than 100 million passengers per year.

Roel Hellemons, General Manager Strategic Planning and Development, Brisbane Airport Corporation, said: “A key benefit of working with SITA is its technology integrates with our existing common-use infrastructure – check-in kiosks and boarding gates – and can be used by any airline that operates on a common-use kiosk.”

Security convenience

Trading our biometric date in return for security and smoother, far more efficient airport experience certainly throws up some questions over data collection and retention. Governments and airport authorities will need to work together to create a robust and unified set of regulations for this purpose. Europe has already taken steps in this direction and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) , approved by the EU Parliament on 14 April 2016 after four years of discussions, will become law on 25 May 2018. In Australia the collection and handling of personal information is governed by Australian Privacy Principles , requiring Australian entities to protect this information against misuse and unauthorised disclosure to ensure that individuals are not subjected to harm.

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