Multimodal Biometrics for Airport Security on the Rise

Aviation security is one of the major challenges for countries around the world. According to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in total 708 million passengers in 2015, there are 2,653 firearms in carry-on bags were detected at airport security checkpoints across the United States, an increase of more than 16% from 2014. Furthermore, the unfortunate rise of terrorism through airports such as 9/11, MH370 or the recent Brussels airport attack by the IS has forced governments to make a concerted effort to strengthen the airport security. Many governments have pointed biometrics as a feasible technology to more accurately identify travelers and help block the spread of terrorism.

airport security biometric

More than 80 countries now have e-passport programs using biometric identification systems for citizen and traveler and the system has proved to be more cost-effective, fast and accurate than traditional manual checking of travel documents. In order to optimize the authentication accuracy, many countries across the globe have deployed multimodal biometric system at their airports. Multimodal biometrics refers to the use of a combination of two or more biometric modalities in an identification system. Compared to unimodal biometric system, it is considered more accurate with anti-spoofing capabilities due to its reliance on multiple biometric credentials for recognition rather than a single biometric characteristic. Accordingly, airports that deploy multimodal biometric system will result in a faster and more accurate immigration checking. Moreover, the solutions would help to detect spoof attacks more easily and prevent the criminal identities from being falsely accepted.

Recently in 2015, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Interior has announced the launch of a biometric screening system in the country’s airports. The multimodal security system will scan eyes, faces, and fingerprints. According to FindBiometrics, all UAE citizens have their fingerprints recorded, so the coming e-gates will provide an immediate security analysis with respect to UAE travelers; non-residents, meanwhile, will be subject to iris scanning. Multimodal biometric systems are also being deployed in many other airports worldwide such as: the Hamad International Airport in Qatar, Bulgarian International Airports, or the Barajas Airport and the Barcelona Airport in Spain. The solutions vary from fingerprint and facial recognition devices to iris scan technologies and more; from manned to self-service stations. There are also many airports that is experimenting with the solutions; for example, the US Customs is testing fingerprint and iris scanners along the Mexican border that would verify when a certain person leave the country, or the Silicon Valley’s Mineta San Jose International Airport is piloting fingerprint and iris scanners.

Today, screening at airports is turning automatic due to the increasing international travel volumes. Smart gate, eGates and self-service kiosks which can recognize traveler’s fingerprint, face and iris at the same time are being deployed broadly in many airports. According to Acuity Market Intelligence the global market for Automated Border Control (ABC) eGates and kiosks will exceed $1.2 billion in annual revenue by 2020 in which airports are the dominant representing 93% of all revenues and 95% of the installed units. In the near future, multimodal biometric smart gate is expected to cover the US, Europe, following up is Asia and then rest of the world in order to provide a highly efficient, cost-effective and secure way to speed-up the process for citizen and travelers as well as enhance the security of the airport.