SITA is arguing that airports will hamper their own recovery if they do not complete their digital transformations as quickly as possible. In that regard, the company noted that COVID-19 has led to a slew of new screening measures, such as vaccine credentials and health tests.
Those checks have helped to maintain a safe travel environment, and will ensure that borders are able to stay open in the future. The problem is that they do add friction to the travel process, especially since many of the checks are still being performed manually. That was less of an issue when travel volumes declined during the pandemic, but it will create much more congestion as traffic increases and airports need to process a greater number of passengers.
With that in mind, SITA believes that airports need to update their infrastructure to make sure that they can fulfill their health and safety obligations without creating long lineups at security checkpoints. The company also indicated that digital screening technologies will be essential, since they can automate many screening processes and eliminate the need for manual checks. For example, passengers could use an app to submit their vaccine documents and their passport in the days before their flight, to make sure that they have all of the necessary paperwork and are cleared to travel before they get to the airport.
Such a solution would minimize the number of people that get turned away when they try to board their flight, and prevent the backlogs that result from such incidents. For its part, SITA encouraged the use of mobile and self-service screening solutions, digital IDs, and the use of facial recognition at the airport itself. On the mobile front, passengers could use an app to consolidate and upload their paperwork, and to take a selfie to register their facial biometrics. That template could then be used to verify their identity at airport checkpoints, allowing them to walk through without stopping to show paper documents.
Self-service kiosks could also be used for biometric registration. The technology is contactless, making it a more hygienic option during the pandemic. SITA went on to highlight its own Digital Travel Declaration and Smart Path solutions, both of which can enable automated screenings.
SITA is currently backing digital transformation projects at airports in Istanbul, San Francisco, and Beijing, amongst several others. In the meantime, NEC and SITA have agreed to support the Star Alliance Biometrics program for Star Alliance frequent flyers.
(Originally posted on FindBiometrics)