They really were still working on it: After a multi-party effort to pioneer digital travel credentials seemed to be put on indefinite hiatus, it’s now clear that Canadian government authorities were serious about continuing work on the project in collaboration with Dutch officials and other stakeholders, with French identity and security giant IDEMIA now having officially announced that it’s the technology provider in the “DTC-1 Pilot.”
“DTC” refers to the “Digital Travel Credential” that is at the heart of the initiative, which involves European Commission officials, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in addition to the Canadian and Dutch governments. IDEMIA has joined what’s described as a Dutch consortium.
Their aim is to enable participating travelers to enjoy more seamless processing at the airport through the use of digital identity, mobile, and biometric technologies. The traveler uses a mobile app to read the biographic and biometric information in their passport’s embedded chip, and is also prompted to take a selfie photo. The selfie is matched to the biometric passport data using facial recognition technology, verifying the user’s identity.
At the airport, the verified traveler simply taps their device and undergoes a face scan upon arrival, and is then able to enjoy a seamless experience passing through border control and boarding.
The DTC-1 Pilot will be open to Belgian, Canadian, and Dutch passengers travelling from Montreal to Amsterdam via KLM, and will last for three months.
In a statement, IDEMIA said it’s role in the pilot will be to act as “the technology provider”.
“IDEMIA has always worked in the Identity & Travel Industry to continuously innovate and maintain safe and smooth travel in the face of complex security challenges,” said Jacques Van Zijp, the Managing Director of IDEMIA’s Netherlands PSI unit. “The DTC-1 pilot is taking seamless travel one step further by simplifying the travel process, safeguarding privacy, security and global interoperability.”
IDEMIA’s announcement did not include any reference to the previously paused “Known Traveller Digital Identity” project, but it appears to be a legacy of it, or at least to share some organizational DNA.
KTDI was first announced in 2018, and framed as a collaboration between the Canadian and Dutch governments as well as the World Economic Forum, INTERPOL, and Accenture. After the disruption of the pandemic, work on KTDI appeared to come to a halt; but earlier this year a Transport Canada spokesperson insisted that the KTDI partners remained “committed to working together to close out the project and disseminate the knowledge gained through this initiative.”
Whatever its origins, the DTC-1 project appears to have much the same aim with respect to digital traveler identity, and IDEMIA says it will “most likely” be deployed “at a broader European level” after a successful pilot.