By Elton Gomes
Union aviation minister Suresh Prabhu announced on Thursday the government’s plans to introduce facial recognition to board flights. Travellers will soon be able to enter airports in India via facial recognition biometric under the government’s Digi Yatra initiative.
Prabhu said the initiative would be “forward-looking and futuristic” and would be launched soon. He added that the facial recognition feature will not be compulsory for passengers. The initiative is estimated to be operational by the end of February 2019.
What is the Digi Yatra initiative?
Travellers have to generate a Digi Yatra ID by sharing details including name, e-mail ID, mobile number, and an ID proof.
Passengers will then share the Digi Yatra ID while booking the ticket with the airline. The airline will share the passenger data and the Digi Yatra ID with the departure airport.
After creating a Digi Yatra ID, a passenger will have to undergo a one-time verification at the departure airport, which is where the facial biometric will be captured and stored in the passenger’s profile.
How will it work?
At the entry point e-gate in an airport, the passenger will scan his boarding pass or e-ticket (print or a soft copy in mobile). On scanning the barcode or the QR code, the system will validate the passenger details and flight details.
Thereafter, Digi Yatra ID will use facial recognition to verify the passenger. Upon successful verification of a passenger’s ticket and Digi Yatra ID, the e-gate will open. This will allow the passenger to gain entry to the security area and aircraft boarding.
A successfully registered passenger can gain access directly to the entry point e-gate of the airport and scan the barcode/ QR code of the ticket/ Boarding pass.
“A camera will capture the face for comparing with DigiYatraID Photo. On successful verification of the travel details and facial matching, the E-Gate will open. The system will also generate a token in the system combining the face of the passenger with PNR of the ticket so that at subsequent checkpoints the ticket details will be available on face recognition,” Rajiv Nayan Choubey, secretary of the MoCA, said, Zee Business reported.
Which airports will have the facility initially?
Prabhu said that initially domestic flights at Hyderabad and Bangalore airports will be equipped with the facility by the end of February 2019. By April 2019, he said Varanasi, Kolkata, Pune, and Vijaywada will be included in the list of airports where “passengers will be taken at face value.”
“These six airports will be the first. We will learn from our experience there and then accordingly roll it out in other airports,” aviation secretary R.N. Choubey said, the Times of India reported.
How will this help Indian airports?
The Digi Yatra comes with several benefits, one of them is that passengers can have a hassle-free travel experience. Facial recognition will enhance security in a non-intrusive way. Delays in departure could be avoided as there might not be any missing passengers. Additionally, facial recognition at Indian airports will drastically reduce human intervention and significantly bring down the queuing time.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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