Deploying identity management for air travel - THE NATION

JULY 30, 2020

Efforts by players in the  aviation sector to achieve walk- through travel experience for passengers, leveraging identity management platforms, is gaining  global traction. Terminal operators are inching towards low-touch passenger facilitation in compliance with health and safety protocols, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, KELVIN OSA-OKUNBOR reports.

The deployment of technology to make travel experience seamless at airports across the globe has continued to engage the attention of players in the aviation industry as airlines and airport authorities comply with new safety protocols to tackle COVID-19 pandemic impact.

To drive the initiative, a coalition led by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Airports Council International (ACI) NEC Corporation and global information technology provider SITA, has announced a partnership to develop market-leading solutions that will leverage identity management platforms at airports.

Through the deal, SITA and NEC are looking at unlocking the potential of next-generation passenger processing solutions, making mobile-enabled and touchless airport processes a reality. The technology will allow passengers to use digital identity on mobile phone on the go.

The platform, according to its promoters, allows passengers to use their biometric identity to check-in, make payments, drop their bags, as well as pass through security, immigration and boarding by simply scanning their face.

The technology will provide key touch points that recognise passengers, making steps, such as bag drop and boarding, effortless.

NEC Corporation and SITA are utilising their companies’global presence and combining technology for Common Use Platforms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions.

With cutting-edge identification technologies and AI solutions, including the most accurate face recognition algorithm, NEC’s I: Delight platform, will allow passengers  to be identified and with a high-degree of accuracy.

SITA Smart Path and SITA Flex solutions will integrate mobile and NEC’s biometric technologies with infrastructure and airline applications to deliver a smoother journey.

Chief Experience Officer (CEO), NEC Corporation of America, and head of NEC Global Aviation Centre of Excellence, Raffie Beroukhim, said: “We look forward to this partnership with SITA and the opportunity to develop and implement the most advanced platforms at airports throughout the world, thereby contributing to the digitisation of the airline industry and making travel safer and more enjoyable.”

SITA CEO, Barbara Dalibard, added: “In NEC, we have another strong partner where  we are able to deliver to our airline and airport customers a more seamless, automated journey through the airport. We know that passengers value the benefit of a truly self-service experience.

Leveraging SITA’s common-use footprint in more than 460 airports globally and NEC’s award-winning identity management technology, we are well placed to help our customers deliver a truly unique and efficient experience in the airport, particularly during these challenging times where there is increased focus on the health and safety of passengers.”

The Federal Government has also keyed into the technology as it has acquired profiling robots to process passengers at the  Abuja Airport.

According to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the project is part of measures by the government to boost safety and reduce body contact among passengers, airlines’ crew and airport personnel.

He said: “It can be programmed to identify unwanted items and check temperature. It is interactive and can lead or direct passengers.

“The robots would be used for passenger facilitation processes, including profiling, check-ins, temperature checks as well as detection of security threats and dangerous goods and arms.’’

According to him, if it works well, it will be adopted at other international airports in the country.

President, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, ASRTI, Dr. Gabriel Gbenga Olowo, had urged the government to adopt  technology at the airports to reduce human contacts.

Olowo urged airlines to encourage the purchase of tickets online, issuance of boarding pass online, and other processes through Artificial Intelligence.

Also, a former Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, said the only way to move the industry forward was to ensure that airports’ operations were automated.

“We need to align with international best practices by checking in our luggage and booking tickets online without human interference. This process will reduce the frequency of contacting COVID-19.

“We should develop and embrace more scientific online technology approach at airports.”

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