Company Spotlight - SITA
04 August 2017 12:49 GMT

Company spotlights have been created to give firms operating in the biometrics and identity industry an opportunity to discuss trends, product innovations and achievements.

These interviews also offer readers insight into a company's outlook, history and future directions.

Planet Biometrics talks to global IT provider SITA.

Tell us a bit about your company and how it fits into the biometric and identity ecosystem?

Our technology is used for nearly every passenger trip by air around the world. In fact, almost every airport and airline in the world does business with SITA. We deliver and manage business solutions for airlines, airports, air cargo, governments and border agencies. It means we are able to understand the diverse requirements of each of these stakeholders and this helps us to provide integrated solutions that ensure seamless interoperability.

SITA has built its border management expertise since 1996 when we helped preparations for the Sydney Olympics. Over 40 governments today use our border management services. Our border management portfolio is a core pillar of SITA’s business and we are the market leader in border intelligence for the world’s governments.

We have been pioneering in areas such as biometrics and identity management solution, expanding in the ABC /APC (Automated BorderControl) market through our e-gates and APC (Automated Passport Control) products and services. We have developed solutions for single token travel that seamlessly integrate with existing airline, airport and border management systems – this allows for passengers to check-in, drop bags, pass security and board using nothing more than a secure biometric token.

A recent example of our work in the biometric/identity management arena is the recent JetBlueAirways collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and SITA to test a new paperless and deviceless self-boarding process as part of ongoing trials to implement a biometric exit process. JetBlue was the first airline to integrate with CBP to use biometrics and facial recognition technology to enable biometric checks and for CBP authorization to be sent quickly to the airline’s systems. This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports.

What do you see as most important drivers and detractors for the secure documents and biometrics industry over the coming year?

Within the travel industry the key driver is the need to improve security and at the same time cope with the ever increasing volume of travelers. As the industry moves more and more to using self-service systems that are preferred by passengers, it is key that identity and documentation checks are fully automated. The use of biometric identity verification linked to a government issued and vetted credential is the ideal approach to ensuring passengers are who they say they are and that they are low risk from a security standpoint.

This requires collaboration between airlines, airports and government stakeholders and can be a powerful enabler of seamless end-to-end travel built on the use of biometrics at every step in the journey. The underlying biometric technology has reached a level of maturity to be practically usable in airports and with the majority of passengers now carrying an e-Passport, the time is ripe for widespread adoption to begin.

While some have concerns about data privacy, evolving technologies such as the Blockchain will put control over privacy of personal data firmly in the hands of passengers. Data privacy concerns related to the use of biometrics are also likely to lessen over time as their use in society becomes more commonplace for other applications such as banking and for day-to-day tasks such as logging onto your computer or smartphone. In addition, modern biometric systems are built with data privacy and security in mind from the get-go.

Compliance with standards is what makes identity documents valid in a variety of national and international scenarios.

What are some of the biggest challenges in completing cutting-edge airport identity projects?

The biggest challenge is often getting the various airport stakeholders to work together so that there is an integrated approach to identity and risk management that support simplified passenger processing.

Additionally, any new technology has to integrate with existing legacy systems. This is no small challenge considering that large international airports can have flights from dozens of airlines. The solution is that identity management solutions must be built upon the existing shared IT infrastructure that supports airline operations – the common use platform.

Can you tell us something unique about your firm that not many people know?

As mentioned above SITA is currently conducting a proof-of-concept at Boston’s Logan Airport with JetBlue and the CBP where passengers board their international departing flight using only the face biometric. The system is a first of its kind and illustrates the power of collaboration between governments and airlines to enable a faster and seamless passenger process. The whole process takes seconds and is enabled by US Customs and Border Protection systems that do the biometric matching against existing government databases. SITA built the solution at the airport including doing the integration between the airline and government systems.