Heathrow trials back biometric security - Embedded.com

Heathrow trials back biometric security

LONDON — The vast majority of people who participated in the miSense biometric airport security trials at Heathrow Airport would recommend the service to their fellow travellers.

The report published by miSense evaluates the experiences and feedback of the 3,166 passengers who took part in the voluntary trials in Heathrow's Terminal 3 during a sixteen week period with 89 percent saying they would recommend the service and 66 percent sa ying it took less than 15 seconds to use the gate.

The report finds that passengers not only accept the need for biometric technology as a means of providing increased levels of security, but also believe that it can significantly improve their journey through the airport.

The quantitative and qualitative research found that passengers thought that the miSense biometric technology was easy to use and reduced waiting times at security screening and passport control.

The miSense project was launched in November 2006 and is part of IATA's Simplifying Passenger Travel Programme. It involves a number of key airport, airline, government and technology partners, including Accenture, BAA, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, the Home Office, IER, Raytheon Systems Limited, Sagem Défense Sécurité and SITA.

The miSense system used nCipher's (Cambridge, England) hardware security modules (HSMs) to generate and protect the unique cryptographic keys that were used to identify and validate each traveller based on their biometric information. In addition, nCipher's database encryption solution was used to protect stored passenger information and passport details in order to ensure compliance with data protection legislation.

“People want better airport security, but also want to avoid the long delays that might result from increased scrutiny of passengers,” said Alex van Someren, chief executive officer at nCipher. ”

The miSense trial was run in conjunction with the airport authorities and immigration services of the U.K., Dubai and Hong Kong, the airlines Emirates and Cathay Pacific. It involved passengers travelling on selected Cathay Pacific and Emirates flights being invited to take part in the trial at check-in by scanning their passport and right index fingerprint into a specially designed miSense self-service kiosk. This information then becomes a passenger's secure 'virtual key' which allows swift access to security control and aircraft boarding using their fingerprint.

The miSense project involves the testing of interactive Advance Passenger Information (iAPI) for the U.K. immigration authorities. iAPI is the capability of automatically providing border control agencies with intelligence prior to passengers boarding a plane. As each passenger checks in, this system enables real-time interaction between airline and government systems. iAPI is already well established in countries such as Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait and New Zealand, where it is used to issue the 'authority to carry' at the point of check-in.

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