Categories: What You Need To Know

4 Airports In India Are Set To Have Facial Recognition-Based Boarding Systems By March 2022

The Airports Authority of India has engaged NEC Corporation Private Limited to set up a facial recognition-based biometric system for four airports in India, namely Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata, and Vijayawada, by March 2022, as a part of the government’s Digi Yatra scheme. 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 for Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata, and Vijayawada airports.

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. Aimed at promoting paperless air travel and making travel seamless from the point of entering an airport until boarding a plane, the service is set to go live from March 2022.

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 at the four above-stated airports that are run by AAI. Post this, the technology will be introduced to all major airports in the country, according to a report by the Economic Times.

Registration for the Facial Recognition Boarding System is optional

Addressing concerns about the safety of passenger data, V K Singh stated that registering for the service will be optional for passengers. Registration will require them to send travel details like the PNR number and facial biometrics through an app to the biometric boarding system of the respective departing airport. However, a passenger can choose to use the existing manual process for boarding instead, according to 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.

Related: Omicron Variant: New Guidelines Issued For Air Passengers Travelling To Maharashtra

Eshita Srinivas

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