Biometrics

CBP tests facial recognition tech at major U.S. airport

Facial recognition

A few months after completing a biometric exit trial at two big U.S. airports, Customs and Border Protection has begun another test at the busiest airport in the country to see how facial recognition tech can work with existing agency IT systems.

The trial, which began June 13 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, will test how CBP's systems can  work with facial comparison technology to process images of travelers leaving the U.S. CBP said the test would be very specific, testing passengers between 14 and 79 years old, leaving the airport on a single daily flight to Japan. The trial is set to last until Sept. 30.

The test comes as Congress has hounded DHS to implement biometric exit-tracking capabilities. At a Senate hearing in January, lawmakers queried DHS officials about why a biometric system that gathers information from departing foreign nationals to check against criminal and terrorist watchlists and criminal databases wasn't in place. The 9/11 Commission recommended such a national biometric exit system back in 2004.

During the Atlanta trial, travelers will present their boarding passes while a digital photo is taken. The process is designed to take fewer than three seconds and avoid slowing down the boarding process.

In a June 13 statement announcing the Atlanta trial, DHS said it is "committed to implementing biometric exit in 2018, starting at the highest volume airports."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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