Facial recognition technology enters Indian airports

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Mumbai: Facial recognition technology is all set for deployment at four Indian airports. It will enable travellers to use a face scan as their boarding pass, according to reports. The facial recognition technology plan reportedly comes into implementation after a delay of three years and will be going live from March next year.

Facial recognition technology at four Indian airports

Airports at four cities namely Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata and Vijaywada will be the first to roll out the facial recognition technology-based biometric boarding system.

This service will go live from March 2022, according to Minister of State for Civil Aviation V.K. Singh. Post the deployment at these four airports, it will be expanded to other airports across India in a phased manner.

For the technology deployment, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has partnered with NEC Corporation Private Limited. Under the DigiYatra policy announced in October 2018, the Civil Aviation Ministry wants to promote paperless air travel and a seamless journey from entering an airport to boarding a plane. As per the policy, initially, the deployment was planned for April 2019 but was put on hold.

Expertise in facial recognition and biometric technology

NEC Corporation is among the players globally in terms of facial recognition and biometric solutions. According to NCE, facial recognition is at the core of the company’s portfolio of biometric identification technologies – Bio-IDiom.

It offers six original biometric authentication technologies–face recognition, iris recognition, fingerprint/palmprint recognition, voice recognition, and ear acoustic authentication.

Interestingly, NEC has built facial recognition AI engine – NeoFace. This engine according to NEC has been certified as the number one in terms of accuracy.

In 2019. the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ranked NEC face recognition technology first among 49 technology vendors globally, with an 0.5% error rate when registering 12 million people.

The company has implemented over 1,000 systems with its fingerprint and face recognition technologies in more than 70 countries and regions globally.

Concerns over Privacy and Bio-metric data

The new technology deployment at Indian airports is likely to raise concerns over individuals’ privacy, bio-metric data and its protection. India is yet to table a personal data protection bill in the parliament. It would be interesting to see how passengers will respond to face-scanning at airports as their boarding passes.

With this move, India will be among the list of 100 countries around the world that are using facial recognition technology at airports, public transportation hubs and arenas.

Other Airports

For instance, Japan’s two airports Narita and Haneda airports early this year deployed a full-scale use of facial recognition system. Using this system, air travellers can check-in their baggage and pass security checkpoints without actually showing their passports or flight tickets.

Besides, the airports in the US, many of its private airlines namely American Airlines, Delta, United, and JetBlue have shown interest in using facial recognition technology. This year, some of them are running pilot projects, while others are replacing the boarding cards using the use of this technology

San Francisco airport had to ban the use of facial recognition technology after massive public outrage forced officials to remove this controversial technology. Several civil and citizen rights groups around the world have called this technology scans a ‘privacy trap’ for surveillance.

The facial recognition market is expected to be worth 8.5 billion by 2025. Interestingly, the technology has remained controversial to an extent in terms of its application and purpose. With growing protests against its misuse, social networking giant Facebook’s parent company Meta late this year decided to ban its use.

(Image credit – CNN/Chris Rank)

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