20-year Anniversary Report: Vision-Box

Vision-Box: How biometrics are improving security, convenience & privacy for travellers in the post-pandemic era

Travel industry on path to recovery 

The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated a global collapse for the travel industry, made worse by a sharp downturn in the air transport sector and its supply chain. For much of the world, the extensive second wave of the coronavirus prevented a hoped-for revival.  

Yet there is room for cautious optimism. With the successful distribution and deployment of vaccines by the latter part of this year, travel rates may rise substantially in 2022. In fact, IATA projects a return to 2019 levels by 2024, with the travel industry as a whole regaining strength in the years to come. 

Big expectations from health, safety & privacy-conscious travellers 

Issues of health, safety, and cleanliness have been brought to the fore by the physical protocols needed to deal with COVID-19 and the transition to its aftermath. People across the globe have become used to the concepts of social distancing, personal protective equipment, and minimal contact with surfaces.  

This behaviour is extended to the travel industry. Travellers are increasingly demanding easy-to-use, seamless experiences which put their safety and data privacy at the centre. What’s more, they wish to be in control of the personal information that is shared with stakeholders along the traveller journey. 

Border agencies and ports and carriers alike need to adapt in this post-COVID world while giving full consideration to health, safety, privacy, and convenience. The key to do so, is through the simplification of processes and flows powered by automation and biometric technology. 

How seamless, touchless biometric solutions can meet this demand 

Simplification of traveller flows and enhanced experiences aren’t new concepts. The demand for them already existed pre-Covid. The key issue is, and was, that of moving people around from A to B, smoothly and safely. 

With the pandemic and the rise of the post-Covid traveller, airports, airlines, and border agencies have an increased desire and opportunity to overcome those challenges. 

We help our customers provide safe and seamless travel experiences powered by state-of-the-art biometrics combined with a highly scalable identity management platform product which is the core enabler of realizing truly seamless experiences. A collaborative platform of real-time intelligence which is designed to accommodate large volumes of information on travellers’ identity, people flow, connected devices and third-party systems, thus streamlining communication between all travel stakeholders.

Travellers are therefore winners as they benefit from better and safer user experiences and convenience while keeping control over their data privacy.

Furthermore, through touchless biometric technology, transmission of pathogens at airports can be mitigated. These solutions offer airports hygienic advantages through security, border control, and boarding. This is achieved by enrolling travel documents and facial images at airport check-in, or remotely using digital mobile ID apps. 

As an example, our mobile identification software development kit allows various stakeholders to easily access different types of biometric services through an API integration, all tied to the biometric and biographic information provided by the traveller. 

Our approach has equipped AirAsia with a Mobile ID SDK to capture high-quality facial recognition data, allowing them to verify users’ documents quickly and accurately through e-passport and border technology. Our collaboration with AirAsia enabled the delivery of F.A.C.E.S (Fast Airport Clearance Experience System) – a touchless identification and contactless clearance platform designed for mobile check-in to enhance the guest experience at the airport, improve customer brand loyalty, and be an integral part of AirAsia’s overall digital transformation. 

Border Control Agencies also benefit from our approach. For Europe’s first Smart Borders implementation at Helsinki Airport, we developed an avatar-based technology that interacts with the traveller and mimics their movements through an ABC eGate. With diversity and inclusion in mind, the customised avatar was a modified version of the Finnish Border Guard teddy bear emblem – which also contributes to a child-centred experience in one of the few countries that allows children to go through gates. There is no need for passengers to physically interact with human operators. Crucially, touchless biometric technology also helps border agencies process the growing number of international passengers, without expanding the physical footprint of immigration halls. 

Moving forward into the digital transformation 

For the travel ecosystem, the path to market recovery is characterised by an urgent need to focus on digital, seamless, and contactless traveller-centric innovation. The catalysts for that innovation to come about are multi-stakeholder collaboration, trusted identity data exchanges, interoperability, and privacy. We are uniquely positioned to enable all travel stakeholders on their path to recovery and well beyond with our expertise and solutions that guarantee effective communication and interaction and enable positive impacts on traveller flow optimisation. Travellers benefit from increased safety and privacy while using their biometric identity to simplify their lives. 

Paulo Godinho
Head of Marketing & Communications

Applications and use cases | Privacy and policy | Research and development | Technology innovation

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