The Airports Authority of India will reportedly set up a facial recognition-based biometric system for major airports in India, namely Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Vijayawada, Kolkata and Pune by August 31, as a part of the government’s Digi Yatra scheme. Here’s all about it. By Eshita Srinivas
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh stated that the Airports Authority of India is working on establishing the country’s first facial recognition-based biometric boarding systems. Passengers will reportedly be automatically processed – from the entry to the security check and boarding gate – with their facial details acting as ID proof and travel document.
Aadhaar details will be needed for registration
Registration will require passengers to share Aadhar details as well as other information like the PNR number and facial biometrics through an app to the biometric boarding system of the respective departing airport. As per a report by FirstPost, a Digi Yatra Central Ecosystem will be launched by the AAI, which will integrate various systems like government ID repositories, airline backend networks, and airport security systems.
A mobile application, accessible through Android as well as Apple phones will be launched towards this, with the backend being tested and prepped for launch. The passenger’s facial data will act as ID proof and information about their ticket will be available through the Digi Yatra application. Pre-security areas and boarding spots will have camera-based e-gates. Self-bag drop and check-in are also on the cards.
Digi Yatra Scheme to be rolled out in a phased manner
This biometric system is a part of the first phase of the government’s Digi Yatra scheme that was earlier unveiled in October 2018 and scheduled for April 2019.
Airports Authority of India working on India’s first facial recognition-based passenger boarding system: MoS for Civil Aviation V K Singh
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) December 2, 2021
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, V K Singh said, “The Digi Yatra Central Ecosystem envisages assessments (by independent teams to assess the level of security and system resilience to protect PII) and periodic audits by governing or regulatory bodies twice every year. Facial recognition is as per Industry ISO standards with best in class National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) listed algorithms complying to Data Privacy and Data protection requirement as laid down by the government.”
While facial recognition has not been installed in any of the airports yet, V K Singh added that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has engaged NEC Corporation Private Limited to set up the technology that will soon be introduced to all major airports in the country, according to a report by the Economic Times.
The service is optional for all passengers
Addressing concerns about the safety of passenger data, V K Singh stated that registering for the service will be optional for passengers, giving them an option to use the existing manual process for boarding instead, added a report by Hindustan Times.
“Data shared by the passengers will be used for the purpose defined and would not be shared with any other external stakeholders. Data shared by passengers will be retained during their transit at the airport and will not be retained for more than 24 hours after the departure of the flight,” he said.