Heathrow launches airport-wide facial recognition tech – but will it affect your privacy?

Heathrow Airport will be launching the hub’s first end-to-end biometrics trial next summer, bringing facial recognition to each point of the departing passenger’s journey.

It will be the first time Heathrow has carried out a full-scale rollout of the new technology and will mean the London airport will have the world’s largest deployment of biometric products.

The passengers’ journeys through Heathrow will be streamlined from check-in to take-off and could reduce the average passenger’s journey time by up to a third.

The new technology uses facial recognition at check-in, bag drops, security lanes and boarding gates to create a seamless experience for passengers travelling through the airport.

Part of a £50 million project, the long-term aim of the technology will be for passengers to be able to walk through the airport without breaking their stride.

Passengers have already been trialling the new services in the live operation throughout 2018 and feedback has been tremendously positive, Heathrow has said.

Currently, manual authentication means that passengers need to present different forms of ID such as boarding cards, booking reference numbers as well as their passports to different agents to show that they’re authorised to travel.

By offering passengers the option to use more instant facial recognition technology fliers will have the choice to streamline that process and collectively significantly reduce the amount of paper used when flying.

However, with the introduction of such high tech comes privacy concerns. However, International Air Transport Association (IATA) research shows that 64 per cent of passengers would choose to share their biometric data in exchange for a better experience when travelling.

A Heathrow spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “We aren’t going to be asking passengers for any information that they don’t already share when travelling.

“The technology builds on the biometrics used for domestic passenger travel or when EU citizens cross the border into the UK.

“It would only match their image to what is stored on the biometric chip on their passport.

The technology’s aim is to improve passenger experience while increasing security.

“With this technology, we’re looking to create a streamlined, frictionless process that allows individuals to confirm their identities while maintaining privacy of their personal data,” said the spokeswoman.

“Heathrow is GDPR compliant and information will not be stored for longer than it is required to do so. This will be done on a secure cloud-based digital service.”

Facial biometrics are more accurate than manual checks and offer increased security, demonstrating how technology helps us without impacting on passenger experience.  

Heathrow has already begun using facial recognition in some stages of the passenger journey, both on entry to the UK at the Border with the biometric e-gates.

The technology is also used for domestic journeys through the airport, but this will be the first time that Heathrow will use the technology at every stage of the departing passenger’s journey.

This has the potential to allow for greater personalisation of passenger services, useful for passengers requiring additional assistance.

“As our passenger numbers continue to grow, we must look for innovative ways to make it easier and quicker for them to travel through Heathrow with choice, whilst keeping our airport secure. Biometrics are key to helping us do that and we are really excited about the biggest rollout of this equipment at any UK airport,” Heathrow Customer Relations and Service Director Jonathan Coen said.

Until the technology is launched next summer, these are the best tips to help you get through security as quickly as possible

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Post Author: martin

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Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BriefNews.eu and PCHealthBoost.info Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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