International travel has become such a natural part of our lives that the World Tourism Organization predicts a global average of 5 million arrivals per day in the year 2030.
For airports to cope with these huge numbers, IATA has recently launched the ONE ID INITIATIVE, promoting opportunities for a seamless, walking pace passenger experience when crossing borders.
Today, OVD Kinegram is developing products and solutions that will contribute to making this programme a reality.
Tomorrow’s Travel – Already Today
More and more countries are adopting a “trusted traveler” approach, where biographic and biometric details of individuals are pre-registered in secure databases during a visit to the country. During the flight booking process for a subsequent visit to that country, the pre-registered traveler may use a mobile app capable of deriving his identity from his electronic passport and transferring it temporarily to his smartphone using near-field communication (NFC). He also takes a selfie, to confirm that he is the rightful holder of that passport. The app then requests approval for entering the country. Once this is granted, the airline will issue the flight tickets.
During the check-in at the airport, the airline confirms that the biographic and biometric data sent in advance via the app do match those of the traveler and the travel documents he presents. In parallel, the traveler’s passport is inspected for authenticity, and the validated biographic and biometric data from the chip are sent to the country of destination. The traveler receives a notification that his boarding pass has been confirmed and that he may proceed to board his plane.
Upon arrival at the airport of his destination country, he selects the lane for pre-registered travelers. At the entrance to this lane, the machine-readable zone (MRZ) of his passport will be scanned briefly. This triggers a selection from the database of the pre-registered facial images which correspond to the data of the MRZ. The traveler’s facial biometrics are captured using overhead cameras, and compared with the pre-positioned facial images from the database. If the match is satisfactory, the gates will open automatically and allow the traveler to conveniently and effortlessly enter the country.
Convenience Versus Confidence
Making this process happen will require advancements in airport infrastructure and mobile devices – but most importantly, absolute confidence in the claimed identity of travelers will be required. This is where the future of travel comes back to the present, and to our most crucial and indispensable physical documents – our passports, which will remain the cornerstone in establishing our identities for many years to come. The extent to which these documents can be authenticated determines the trade-off between convenience and security.
To understand this better, let us look at “False-Rejects” in facial recognition. How can these be distinguished from actual fraudulent attempts to enter a country? With the readily-available Mobile e-Gate App from OVD Kinegram, the immigration officer can use his smartphone to inspect the traveler and his passport:
- He scans the MRZ of the traveler’s passport. The corresponding biographic data are displayed on the phone, any inconsistencies in the MRZ are highlighted.
- Via NFC, the app accesses the chip data when the phone is positioned on the passport. Via ICAO basic access control protocol, the photo and biographic data on the chip are displayed on the phone.
- The immigration officer compares the photo in the passport, the photo from the chip, and the actual person standing in front of him.
- If still unsure, the officer captures a live video of the traveler’s face, which the software transforms into a facial template for comparison purposes. A positive match between the live image and the photo from the chip is reassurance that the biometric data in the chip match the traveler.
Comprehensive Security – The Triangle of Trust
The Mobile e-Gate app allows the officer to confirm the Country Signing Certificates by accessing the corresponding country signing public key stored in the ICAO PKD. Once this has been verified, the immigration officer has a high level of confidence that the passport is valid and that the biometric data in the chip match the traveler. In short, he can be sure of the document, the chip, and the person.
With the Mobile e-Gate App, OVD Kinegram proposes a solution that enables both convenience of travel and security on the highest level. In combination with physical security features such as the KINEGRAM, governments have an unparalleled solution at hand for securely establishing a traveler’s identity and the authenticity of his documents.
This becomes evident when we consider situations where the Country Signing Certificates cannot be verified. According to ICAO recommendations, if the electronic data on the passport cannot be fully authenticated, the document should be treated as anon-electronic passport. In this case, the Mobile e-Gate App enables the Immigration Officer to inspect the physical security features on the document without any prior knowledge or training. With the touch of a button, a photographic image of the data page of a sample document is displayed on the phone, enabling a side-by-side comparison with the actual document. Additionally, the kinematic movements of sophisticated security features such as the KINEGRAM can be displayed as a video, again for comparison purposes.
Beyond Airport Borders
The Mobile e-Gate App may also be useful in border crossing situations other than air travel, where there is little or no infrastructure to support automatic inspection. Examples would be harbors or ports, or land border crossings by car, train or coach. This smartphone app has taken many of the inspection processes that the traveler experiences while using an e-Gate and replicated them for use in a mobile device.
Unlike fully automated border crossings, the Mobile e-Gate App allows for a smart decision based on facial recognition via algorithms, in support of human face matching by the officer. The officer has the opportunity to focus more on the behavior and mood of the traveler. The App further enables the inspection of even the most sophisticated physical security features. It is a crucial tool in establishing the triangle of trust, making sure the traveler in question is the right person holding a valid document with an authentic chip.