The National Academies

ACRP 03-55 [Active]

Airport Biometrics--A Primer

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Staff Responsibility: Theresia H. Schatz
Research Agency: InterVISTAS
Principal Investigator: Solomon Wong
Effective Date: 5/7/2020
Completion Date: 2/8/2021

Biometric recognition refers to identification and authentication of an individual based on their physical traits. Biometric solutions are complex, multi-faceted, and quickly changing and include technical, operational, financial, legal, and programmatic considerations, among others.
Currently, some airports use biometrics for employee access control. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are working together with airport operators and airlines to pilot the use of biometrics at airports for passenger processing. As airport operators see greater use of biometrics and as they consider exploring the technology, research is needed to produce a primer to help airport operators and their stakeholders understand the uses and considerations of biometric technology.
The objective of this research is to develop a primer that defines and describes the landscape of biometric processes and applications for airports and their respective stakeholders. The primer would include benefits and considerations of implementing biometrics in an airport environment and should address the following elements, to include but not limited to:
  • Broad educational information on types and applications of biometrics (e.g., passenger check-in/bag drop, passenger screening, passenger boarding, employee access control, commercial applications).  Benefits and challenges should consider applications beyond the government mandated biometric entry/exit program;

  •  Facial recognition biometrics:
    • Opportunities and benefits to the airport (e.g., security, efficiencies and passenger convenience);

    • Jurisdictional issues related to governmental requirements, statutory authorities, and commercial interests (i.e., potential conflict between federal and state regulations);
    • Legal and privacy implications (i.e., data protection and ownership, public opinion/ awareness/education, media influence);
    • Industry and government driven initiatives (e.g., International Air Transportation Association (IATA) One ID, World Economic Forum (WEF) Known Traveler Digital Identify (KDTI), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Digital Travel Credentials (DTC);
    • System design options and interoperability at all identification points in the passenger journey and airport employee processing (e.g., e-gates, camera on a stick, biometrics on the fly, etc.);
    • Considerations for planning and implementation (e.g., costs, infrastructure, space and operational constraints, and stakeholder collaboration); and
    • Future trends on the use of biometrics at airports.

The research plan should include appropriate deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at minimum:
1.  A sampling of three to five international case examples of biometric uses at international airports that would enhance the end-to-end passenger journey;
2. An outline of the federal, and different state and municipal laws related to facial recognition; and
3. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks, including an annotated outline of the primer.
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables will include: (1) the primer that includes a glossary of key terms and any relevant appendices that meets the stated objective and (2) (a) A Summary of Key Findings (see Special Note D); (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo (see Special Note E); and (c) a technical memo titled: “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note F).
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, there should be 3 months for ACRP review and comments and for contractor preparation of the final deliverables.   For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that ACRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services. ACRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the face-to-face meeting. Proposers should assume that the meeting will be held in Washington, DC.
A. Due to the rapid evolution of biometric technologies and their uses, it is important that this research is accomplished in an expedited time frame.
B. Travel is not expected in constructing the international use cases. Emphasis should be placed on addressing the bulleted elements in the context of facial recognition biometrics.
C. Other ACRP and non-ACRP related research, reports that have been published or are ongoing, should be considered when conducting this research. Proposers should search TRB’s Website http://www.trb.org/Projects/Projects2.aspx  to identify other related ACRP research. 
D. The Summary of Key Findings will be a stand-alone document. It should (a) convey the most pertinent and applicable results of the project’s research; (b) be geared toward the airport industry practitioner while minimizing technical language; (c) present results using text and graphics as appropriate; and (d) encourage readers to explore the primary project deliverables. The Summary of Key Findings should be limited to no more than 4 pages.
E. The Further Recommended Research Memo will be a stand-alone document. It should (a) identify logical follow-on research that would benefit the industry yet was beyond the original scope and budget of the project; (b) describe how the proposed follow-on research relates to ACRP’s research roadmaps, if applicable; and (c) for the highest priority research needs, include research ideas and/or problem statements to be added to ACRP’s IdeaHub, the program’s online repository of research needs.
F. The technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should provide: (a) recommended tactics to facilitate implementation; (b) possible institutions/partners and their potential implementation role; (c) potential impediments to successful implementation; (d) metrics to measure extend of product use and benefit; (e) related FAA guidance; and (f) appendices as needed. An annotated template for the memorandum is found here: onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/acrp/ACRP_Implementation_TechMemo_Template_2019.docx.
STATUS: InterVISTAS has been selected. Research is underway. 

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