In February 2017 KLM and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol introduced an as-of-yet experimental biometrics-based facial-recognition program that – if successful – could streamline the whole passenger boarding experience, while improving airport security
The main airport in the Netherlands, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, in conjunction with that nation’s no.1 airline KLM has launched a three-month biometric boarding experiment which is designed to improve on security while speeding up the passenger boarding process. The test will take place at a specially selected gate at the airport. The goal of the experiment is for passengers to be able to board an aircraft quickly and easily using facial-recognition software and without having to show their boarding pass or passport.
Boarding with facial recognition will still require passengers to register first. A specially designed registration kiosk has been positioned in the waiting area near the gate, and trained KLM staff will be available to offer their assistance to passengers. The initial registration process involves scanning the passenger’s passport, their boarding pass, and finally and crucially – the passenger’s face (as shown in the image below). This allows them to pass through the biometric “eGate” simply by looking at a camera.
In the interest of privacy, all of the volunteer passenger’s data will be used only for the test, and following boarding, all personal data will be erased. Additionally, all of the passenger’s data that has been stored in the registration kiosk will also be erased after ten hours. If the experiment proves successful, the trial biometric boarding will be expanded to more boarding gates at the airport.
Schiphol is one of Europe’s longest established airports, having first been developed as an airbase in 1916, but is hoping that steps like this will make it one of the most innovative in the world. The airport has been working together with Vision-Box – an ePassport gate developer – with a view to improving the whole airport experience from the boarders perspective, and bringing it into the 21st century. Schiphol is currently the third busiest airport in Europe (behind Heathrow and Charles De Gaulle) and the twelfth busiest in the world, handling some 63.6 million passengers in 2016. Schiphol is hoping that their use of biometrics and facial-recognition technology will help them in their quest to become “The World’s Leading Digital Airport” by 2018.