Sophia, one of the world’s most advanced and perhaps most famous artificial intelligence humanoid robots,
was a big hit at this year’s Information & Communication Technology International Expo in Ethiopia. Visitors, including various dignitaries, were excited to meet the life-like robot as she communicated with expo guests and expressed a wide range of facial expressions. VOA’s Mariama Diallo reports
Sophia, one of the world’s most advanced and perhaps most famous artificial intelligence humanoid robots,
was a big hit at this year’s Information & Communication Technology International Expo in Ethiopia. Visitors, including various dignitaries, were excited to meet the life-like robot as she communicated with expo guests and expressed a wide range of facial expressions. VOA’s Mariama Diallo reports.
can play a key role in helping to enhance the passenger experience by facilitating simple, hassle-free processing, while also strengthening security. In the past few years, airports and airlines, government agencies and technology vendors have been investing more and more in the technology. Ahead of Future Travel Experience Global 2018, which will include a conference session dedicated to biometrics technology, FTE spoke to a number of the key protagonists who will be joining us at the event from Miami International Airport, British Airways (BA), U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and Gemalto to explore the advantages and challenges relating to this technology.
Miami International is one such airport that already has a strong track record of using biometrics. In November last year, the airport opened its newly renovated Concourse E federal inspection facility for international arrivals. The facility is the first in the US completely dedicated to providing expedited passport screening via facial recognition and is already showing positive results.
Maurice Jenkins, Director Information Systems and Telecommunications, Miami International Airport, explains: “Since launching the facial recognition pilot programme in November, the Concourse E facility has been screening as many as 10 passengers per minute. We have incrementally added flights since the programme began, and are now processing daily flights by six different airlines.”
The facility uses a new technology solution, developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which verifies the traveller’s identity by matching a traveller to the document they are presenting. In addition to providing the latest in expedited passport screening technology, the new facility also reduces the walking distance for Concourse E and F passengers who previously only had access to the Concourse D passport hall – decongesting the arrivals area in the process as well.
According to SITA, 63% of airports and 43% of airlines plan biometric ID management investment by 2020 and for those who are just taking their first steps into exploring the technology, Jenkins advises that “encouraging a strong collaboration with stakeholders in the airport ecosystem” is essential. He adds: “Also, effectively plan and design POCs (proof of concepts) to best measure effectiveness and manage costs.”
British Airways’ £4.5bn innovation programme
Meanwhile, British Airways was one of the first airlines to trial self-service biometric boarding gates on international flights out of the US.
As part of the airline’s £4.5 billion investment programme focused on innovation and new technology, BA launched a trial at Los Angeles International Airport (using Vision-Box’s biometric e-gates) last December to improve the boarding process and significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft.
Moreover, earlier this year, BA launched another joint initiative with Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) and CBP to implement SITA’s biometric technology on flights between Orlando and London Gatwick airports, which is showing positive results. “British Airways is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to improve the customer experience,” says Raoul Cooper, Digital Airport Design Manager, British Airways.
“Technology plays an important part in this and through the Orlando trials we discovered exactly how this sort of technology helps our customers, and the operation too. We saw that customers really appreciate and value a simple, quick and hassle-free boarding experience. Biometric boarding means they don’t have to present their boarding pass or passport at the departure gate, which leads to less time queuing to get on board. This technology enables us to board flights of almost 240 customers in around ten minutes – that’s such an achievement and half the time it takes using the traditional boarding method.”
BA is now looking ahead to improving the passenger experience at John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 7 using the same technology. “Our intention has always been to trial different camera and gate technologies, to understand what will provide the greatest benefit for customers and colleagues. As we now look ahead to improving the JFK Terminal 7 experience, all these learnings are helping us build the best solution for our customers travelling through New York,” he shares.
Cooper also revealed that BA is working with CBP on a white paper focusing on biometrics, which will be released soon. “We encourage all parties to read this and raise questions or challenge accordingly. It has the potential to really change the industry and so we need to air the contentious areas as well as embrace the clear benefits.”
Solving the security challenge by focusing on the passenger experience
The use of biometrics is growing steadily around the world, and U.S. CBP has an active role in supporting the industry in understanding and implementing the technology. Colleen Manaher, Executive Director, Planning, Program Analysis and Evaluation, Office of Field Operations, U.S. CBP, explains: “CBP meets regularly with airlines, airports and air travel industry associations while also participating in the key aviation events each year like the FTE Global event in Las Vegas to inform this key audience about the biometric exit mandate and partnership opportunities with CBP.”
Traditionally, CBP’s technology systems were based on reading the passenger’s passport. Through testing and stakeholder collaboration, however, CBP realised that once travellers have checked in with the airline, a camera could be used at the gate to quickly verify that the same person boards the plane.
Manaher adds: “As part of CBP’s vision, we built the infrastructure that our airline and airport stakeholders can plug into wherever an identity check is needed, so they can offer additional benefits to their customers. Biometrics are the transformative agent to revolutionising air travel today. Ultimately, CBP’s goal is to make travel easy for those who are compliant but very difficult for those trying to break the law. If each airline and airport tried to build their own systems, it could make travel incredibly complex for everyone.”
Currently, CBP and TSA are working closely together on biometrics efforts and will deploy a pilot at Los Angeles International Airport in August 2018, to test facial biometrics at the security checkpoint.
While the technology has the ability to secure and streamline travel and enhance the overall passenger experience, some have raised privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition. CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has already taken several steps to safeguard the privacy of travellers. Manaher comments: “CBP is solving this very challenging security mandate by focusing on the traveller experience. For example, we have published several Privacy Impact Assessments, employed strong technical security safeguards, and have limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the transaction. In addition, CBP works with the DHS Data Privacy Integrity Advisory Committee (DPIAC) and has met with several privacy groups to get their input about the implementation of the biometric Entry/Exit programme.”
Neville Pattinson, Senior Vice President of Federal Government Sales for Gemalto, which will be among the exhibitors at FTE Global, also comments: “Air travel security absolutely cannot be compromised, which makes a reliable, fast and secure identity verification system central to passenger experience improvements.” Gemalto’s latest innovation, which is based on its Live Face Identification System (LFIS), has the potential to successfully tackle this challenge. The company recently took part in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 2018 Biometric Rally where Gemalto’s solution proved its worth, recording a 99.44% successful acquisition rate in less than five seconds, compared to the average of 65%.
“As we saw at the rally, this technology speeds up the travel experience, resulting in added convenience,” Pattinson explains. “That remarkably consistent efficiency could save travellers time and stress getting through airports, and could provide a boost to airports’ business by giving travellers more of an opportunity to enjoy restaurants, duty free stores or other amenities.”
Transformational potential of biometrics
While biometrics technology has reached a point where it can transform travel experiences, the change management aspect – from both passenger and process standpoints – will take some time, as will the creation of further collaborations between the various parties involved. Airports, airlines, government agencies, technology vendors and consumers must reach consensus on how to responsibly deploy biometrics, if the benefits of speedy, dependable and secure biometrics are to be fully realised by all.
In the meantime, here at FTE we will continue to bring industry leaders together and provoke meaningful discussions on key topics such as biometrics and secure passenger processing. In fact, the ‘On the Ground’ Conference at FTE Global 2018 (10-12 September, Las Vegas) will include an entire session dedicated to “Implementing advanced passenger processing with automation and biometrics”. Among the high-level speakers confirmed to participate in this session are Raoul Cooper, Digital Airport Design Manager, British Airways; Maurice Jenkins, Director Information Systems and Telecommunications, Miami International Airport; Simon Wilcox, Automation of the Passenger Journey Programme Lead, Heathrow Airport; Colleen Manaher, Executive Director, Planning, Program Analysis and Evaluation, OFO, U.S. CBP; Justin Erbacci, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Los Angeles World Airports; Dr. Bjoern Becker, Senior Director Product Management Ground & Digital Services, Lufthansa Group; Mara Winn, Lead Program Manager, Innovation Task Force, TSA; and Larry Panetta, Direct of Air Exit Implementation, U.S. CBP.
There will also be a “Jump Seat Debate” on the “Future of biometrics in travel” moderated by British Airways, plus dedicated briefing sessions from both U.S. CBP and TSA. Meanwhile, the leading suppliers of biometric technologies will also be present in the FTE Global exhibition. You can view the full agenda here. Early bird registration pricing expires on July 20.
A wave of ultra long-haul routes between distant airports have entered the market this year, offering travellers non-stop flights in aircraft configured especially for flying times of over 17 hours. Given that these routes were phased out in the past due to lack of passenger demand and unsustainable fuel costs, we find out what’s changed.
We also round up the airports that are pushing the boundaries of luxury entertainment into the virtual realm, learn more about Heathrow’s sustainability agenda, and ask whether airports should be doing more to help stranded migrants.
In this issue
Airports tap into virtual reality for passenger entertainment While some airlines have already pioneered in-flight virtual reality, a number of airport lounges are also starting to experiment with the technology. Frances Marcellin looks at the immersive entertainment systems that are taking off in airports. Read the article here.
In it for the ultra long-haul This year has seen the start of a wave of ultra long-haul routes, offering travellers non-stop flights in aircraft configured especially for longer flying times. Given that these routes were phased out in the past, Joe Baker finds out why they’re making a comeback. Read the article here.
Heathrow’s environmental mitigation: does the strategy hold up? After a controversial national debate, Heathrow Airport has received backing for its third runway project. The airport has gone to great lengths to prove it is embarking on a journey to sustainable growth, but is its environmental strategy convincing enough? Eva Grey reports. Read the article here.
Migrant crisis: airports caught in the middle The modern surge of migration, driven by those seeking economic opportunity or fleeing from war or persecution, is a defining geopolitical issue of our time. How are airports affected, and is there a solution? Chris Lo reports. Read the article here.
Will anyone save Detroit Airport? Lying in a perennial state of decay, Detroit airport is the subject of a fierce debate over whether it should remain open. As the city continues its recovery from bankruptcy, Ross Davies considers its future as an aviation hub. Read the article here.
Movers and shakers: tracking the world’s busiest airports Airports Council International recently unveiled its preliminary world airport traffic rankings, highlighting 2017’s busiest airports worldwide. Joe Baker finds out where they are, and what this tells us about global air travel.
Finally, we find out whether Detroit Airport has a future after the city turned down a $4m offer from private investors to build a modern terminal and hangars at the site, and explore the world’s busiest airports – which handled 1.5 billion passengers last year – in a special map feature.
Technology is making life easier for air traffic controllers, with automation set to play a key role. The FAA’s NextGen programme will provide increased automation and decision support tools to ATC
In this issue: The resurgence of ultra long-haul flights, airport lounges adopting virtual reality tech, the role of airports in helping migrants, Heathrow’s sustainability agenda, rescue plans for Detroit Airport, and more.
specialists, which could one day mean they are no longer involved in controlling every flight. We examine major automation projects in the world of ATC and ask what problems automation could solve in the future.
In security, we speak to Unisys about its plans to supply microsegmentation cybersecurity technology across 400 US airports, and find out more about the latest trend of flight sharing, which involves sharing the costs of private flights between a licensed pilot and their passengers.
Finally, we talk to some of the winners of the ACI Airport Service Quality customer satisfaction survey, map out some of the most exciting African airport projects set to drive air industry growth across the continent, and profile Mexico’s new airport, which is set to be the country’s most expensive endeavour in a century.
WHY IT RATES: Air travel numbers aren’t slowing down anytime soon, and new tech like EASE from Amadeus can help clear congestion when problems arise.—Michael Schottey, TravelPulse Director of Digital Content
Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport (GRK), located in central Texas, and Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, are both moving away from the traditional common use system and implementing Amadeus Extended Airline System Environment (EASE™), a hybrid common-use infrastructure platform. It is an expandable passenger processing solution that allows any equipped ticket counter or gate workstation to be used by any airline serving the airport.
Amadeus EASE™ can be implemented at any airport, regardless of size, and at a cost far below that of traditional common use systems. It is distinguished by its ability to provide airport operators the flexibility they need to optimize resource allocation required for processing passengers.
Matt Van Valkenburgh, AAE, Executive Director of Aviation for Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, says: “We chose to implement EASE™ at GRK because of the flexibility it provides for the airlines and operations. Our airport offers a variety of services for the airline traveler and the charter community and we’re committed to providing the best experience possible.”
Glenn Kurcon, Director of Information Systems and Technology for Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), says: “ABE has experienced a sharp increase in passenger traffic over the past seven months, and we needed a solution to allow airlines to share gate and ticket counter resources which created a more flexible environment and enabled us to accommodate new services.”
Betros Wakim, President, Amadeus Airport IT Americas, Inc., adds: “As we see more North American airports making the significant decision to transition away from traditional common use, EASE™ is quickly becoming a preferred solution. Both GRK and ABE are well positioned for the future as they expand their services and improve experiences for airlines and travelers.”
With the addition of Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport and Lehigh Valley International Airport, EASE™ will be operational at 51 airports in North America including LAX, JFK, CLT, FLL, and TPA.
Shinwoo opens first duty-free shops at Brunei airport; plans to build local factory
The Korean firm eyes further investment into Brunei’s retail, tourism and manufacturing sector.
Korean conglomerate Shinwoo has incorporated in the Sultanate to open the Brunei International Aiport’s (BIA) first duty-free shops, with a plan to open downtown shops and open a factory to make Bruneian products that can be exported.
The Minister of Communications Yang Berhormat Abdul Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong and Second Minister of Finance Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah jointly officiated the opening of Shinwoo’s four stores at BIA’s satellite area within the departure hall, which carry a range of premium watches, sunglasses, fashion and electronics.
Director of Shinwoo Brunei Corporation Sdn Bhd (SBC) Sung Weon Woo said that $5 million has been invested into the stores, with 20 Bruneians already hired for operations. SBC is also eyeing further investment into Brunei’s retail, tourism and manufacturing sector.
“The second step (following the opening of the airport shops is a downtown duty-free shop (targeted for next year),” said Sung, with the Empire Hotel & Country Club and the Yayasan Shopping Complex being mooted as potential locations.
“The third step is making Made in Brunei products,” added Sung. “And we are going to open a factory to make these products.”
The four duty-free shops selling branded goods include handbags from Gucci, pens and watches from Mont Blanc as well as a range of electronics including drones.
He explained that preliminary ideas for Bruneian products include Halal-certified cosmetics that could be marketed internationally, and would combine Bruneian and Korean elements and technology.
Shinwoo has a wide industry portfolio in South Korea, including construction, trading, logistics as well as several duty-free shops. Sung said their decision to invest in Brunei is grounded in Brunei’s political stability, clean environment, educated workforce as well as the hospitality of its people.
The President of the Shinwoo Group Choi Sang Kwon said that he hopes that their decision to invest in Brunei will generate interest amongst Korean companies in Brunei, with plans to bring delegations of Korean businessmen to tour Brunei shortly.
YB Dato Hj Ali (C) expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Finance for working together to make the opening of the shops possible, a move expected to boost tourism revenue.
Xovis solution in action at Abu Dhabi International Airport
SERVING 24 million passengers per year, Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
is one of the fastest growing hubs in the world and it is anticipated that the annual passenger throughput will grow to 45 million passengers within the next 10 years. To facilitate is anticipated growth, Dubai Technology Partners (DTP), a leading systems integrator for the aviation industry, announced that it has joined forces with Xovis, the leading provider of people flow monitoring solutions, to help improve operations at AUH.
Integrated with DTP’s desk planner solution, the Xovis Passenger Tracking System (Xovis PTS) will allow Abu Dhabi Airports, the operators of Abu Dhabi International Airport, to improve passenger flow and reduce waiting-time in critical areas like check-in, security, immigration and baggage-claim, dynamically manage airport resources and ultimately increase capacity and passenger satisfaction.
Commenting on the decision to partner with DTP and Xovis, Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, acting chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “This project has been key in meeting the growing challenge of balancing the increased volume of passengers and operational efficiency. With the implementation of this smart technology solution provided by experts such as DTP and Xovis, the team will be able to anticipate and respond to traveller flows for better real time and planning decisions. The intelligence that the system is delivering has already proven its value by providing actionable information and real time inputs during recent Low Visibility Operations.”
After a successful trial at a check-in area in Terminal 3, DTP, using Xovis’ Smart IoT Technology, has deployed 455 Xovis 3D sensors in 19 sites in T1, T1A and T3. Implementation of the Desk Planner module enables the airport to forecast “desk demand” for security and immigration areas. Moreover, the technology collects and visualises data and KPIs on interactive airport maps to allow the airport operations to react with necessary measures against any challenges in the passenger flow.
has launched a new mobile app that enables passengers and employees to directly report safety and security concerns to airport authorities.
Users of the See Say Airport app can share information about things seen in the airport, such as suspicions persons or activity, unattended baggage and even spills or a dirty restroom. The app allows users to send photos, videos, text messages and GPS location information to airport operations for assistance.
The report will then be investigated and allows for airport authorities to communicate back to the person who submitted the report with questions or requests for follow up information. Reports can also be sent anonymously.
Ed English, CEO at Elerts, said, “We’re excited to work with Denver International Airport as they take the next step toward improved airport security and safety. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) See Something Say Something campaign brought attention to the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement, but was created before mobile phones were an everyday accessory for nearly everyone.
“Combining the campaign effort with our See Say Airport mobile app, which makes it easy for anyone in an airport to report suspicious behavior or questionable activity, is a powerful combination bringing this security initiative into the 21st century.”
DEN is the first airport in the country to utilize Elerts, a public safety communication app, to crowdsource reporting of safety and security issues. Elerts develops the leading See Something Say Something communication platform for airports, cities and transit agencies. Its incident management system is powered by mobile, crowdsourced reporting of safety and security concerns.
Kim Day, CEO at DEN, added, “Safety is our number one priority, and by downloading and reporting issues through the See Say Airport app, the public can take an active role in keeping the airport as safe as possible.
“We encourage anyone who visits the airport regularly to download the app and use it to communicate with airport authorities directly regarding safety and security concerns.”