This is a guest post by Micah Willbrand, Vice President of Product Development, NEC Corporation of America
There are several areas in everyday life where there is a need to bridge the Identity Gap – that is, the disconnect between our online identities and our identities in the physical world. But one of the areas where a solution based on digital ID can have the greatest immediate impact is in air travel.
Because of interlocking interests and concerns on the part of air travel authorities, border control agencies, tourism industry actors, and regular travelers, the air travel experience can be unnecessarily complex and burdensome. Passengers tend to have to wait in lines to get their digital tickets converted into physical ones, and in doing so they generally need to provide various forms of physical identification. These credentials often need to be presented again in security screening and at boarding gates, further adding to bottlenecks throughout the airport.
As in so many other areas where people get tripped up by the Identity Gap, Digital ID technologies offer a solution. And NEC’s I:Delight offers a particularly compelling one.
Before a traveler begins a journey, they will opt-in to creating a Digital ID using their face as a biometric identifier through I:Delight’s cloud-native platform. This Digital ID is stored on the traveler’s personal device – i.e. their smartphone – and forms the basis for a biometric system that can dramatically streamline passenger processing at the airport.
That’s because face recognition can identify the traveler at every touchpoint in the airport, from curb-to-gate. A camera scans the traveler’s face and matches it to their Digital ID, thereby confirming the traveler’s identity without any need to present physical identity documents. And the process is almost instantaneous, significantly reducing the time it takes to process a traveler at each touchpoint and speeding up the entire process for everyone.
Not only does this biometric approach deliver greater efficiency, but it also amps-up security, given the advantages that sophisticated computer vision can have in terms of accurately identifying a given traveler. But what about privacy? This is where NEC I:Delight, with its hybrid approach to combining decentralized and centralized identity frameworks, offers a unique advantage to travelers in terms of protecting their sensitive data.
With I:Delight, the traveler’s most sensitive Personal Identifiable Information is stored in the platform on their personal device. This includes information like passport data, date of birth, nationality and boarding pass information, none of which is shared with any entities beyond the app, making it a decentralized store of data.
Meanwhile, a centralized identity hub keeps information that needs to be shared with airport and border control authorities – things like the user’s image, the expiry date of their passport, and frequent flier number. On the day of the traveler’s flight, authorities gain access to this data through a “Gallery of the Day” that allows them to automatically process the traveler through the airport’s biometric systems without any need for physical contact at various touchpoints. After the traveler has made their departure, their information is removed from the centralized database, further ensuring that it is kept secure.
Through this approach, the traveler never has to share any sensitive information beyond what is strictly needed by authorities, and yet an extremely streamlined approach to passenger processing is enabled throughout the airport, to the benefit of the traveler, airport and border authorities, and everyone else waiting in queues.
NEC has already deployed this solution in collaboration with the Star Alliance in Europe, and in partnership with SITA in Istanbul. And the I:Delight solution clearly demonstrates the advantages of Digital ID more broadly, pointing to the possibilities of applying this technology across several other application areas, from banking to retail to the workplace. To learn more about how Digital ID and NEC’s I:Delight can be used in your organization’s digital transformation, download NEC’s new white paper “Bridging the Identity Gap With Digital ID and NEC.”