How Do We Prepare Aviation for the Next Generation of Travel?
As people return to the skies and passenger numbers grow, more than ever we must focus on the need to prepare aviation for the next generation of travel. According to SITA’s 2022 Passenger IT Insights research, passengers want to embrace mobile, biometric, and touchless technologies to make their journeys easier. For its part, driven by the pandemic, the industry has begun accelerating the task of making travel processes digital.
But the decision as to which partner to work with is fraught with challenges. CIOs, CTOs, and commercial procurement professionals need to make the right choices. This is not a commodity purchase at the lowest price. The opportunity cost of getting it wrong is not worth thinking about. Our decisions now must ultimately take us toward the vision of a single digital identity for travelers across all the world’s airports.
With standards and practices changing, it’s critical to understand the way forward. Decision-makers need reassurances of vision, credibility, quality, experience and reach. SITA and NEC have partnered with airports and airlines around the world to navigate the landscape.
The SITA-NEC global partnership focuses on secure and seamless travel on and off airports, founded on next-generation biometric, mobile-enabled, and touchless passenger processing technology. The partnership integrates SITA Smart Path and the NEC I:Delight identity management platform.
NEC’s platform is the world’s best biometric matching service, ranked No. 1 several times as the world’s most accurate face recognition technology in vendor tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Using NEC’s fast, accurate biometric automation, SITA Smart Path (for whole-journey identity management) validates a passenger’s identity and credentials for paperless check-in, bag drop, security, immigration and boarding.
Any decision must be informed by the provider’s deployments. Some providers refer to deployments that are proofs-of-concept or limited trials, perhaps for one airline or terminal. How viable are the experiences? SITA Smart Path has been deployed in full production environments at major airports, including Beijing, Boston and Orlando.
At the same time, it’s in various stages of trials and adoption around the world, including the airports of Athens, Brisbane, Doha (Hamad), Kuala Lumpur, Oman, Riyadh, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Taiwan, with more in the pipeline. Around 800 Smart Path touchpoints are in production, with over 3,000 committed in airports globally. On top of that, Smart Path is being deployed in other travel sectors, such as rail and cruise, as well as for global sporting events.
Star Alliance’s airline passengers will also be able to complete touchless processes using their face biometrics, for tickets, loyalty program, and payment cards, thanks to SITA-NEC technology. Connecting to SITA’s Smart Path solution, Star Alliance’s biometrics platform will be able to use SITA’s shared airport infrastructure in more than 460 airports to help streamline processing at checkpoints. Another SITA-NEC customer, Miami International Airport, is introducing biometric boarding at over 130 gates by 2023, complying with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) biometric Entry/Exit program.
In addition to real deployments, consider longevity. Will the biometric solution evolve easily as we approach the vision of a single identity for travelers, everywhere? Airports need to easily migrate to new and emerging technologies, practices, and standards.
SITA constantly evolves its technology for airlines, airports, governments, and other aviation players, which has been the case for more than 70 years. Owned by the air transport community, we’re driven by its long-term needs. NEC’s pedigree spans 123 years, 70 of which have seen the company providing technology to governments.
There are many qualitative considerations in creating a biometric and mobile-driven digital journey:
For years the travel industry has sought digital transformation to make travel easier and to gain efficiencies. As international travel grows again, the SITA-NEC partnership opens up a whole new world of digital travel possibilities, offering far greater convenience and speed in processing passengers. This not only bodes well for today’s return to the skies, but also for the seamless digital travel experience of the future.
This article was originally published by SITA.
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