Heathrow biometrics project biggest single deployment in the world

Heathrow Airport’s deployment of facial recognition technology will enable flyers to go from check-in to boarding flights without having to show passport documentation or boarding passes.

The £50 million biometric project should be in operation this summer, and is “the biggest single deployment of biometric technology in the world,” according to the Times.

Travellers using the service will have to link their facial image with their passports, though the ability to do so will not be open to all, the Times says.

Those relying on the new methodology will system will also incorporate bag drop and security check procedures. Heathrow Airport has said that it hopes the new measures will bring down the average passenger’s journey time through the airport by up to a third.

A spokesperson at the airport told the Express newspaper that passenger privacy would not be adversely effected by the technology.

“We aren’t going to be asking passengers for any information that they don’t already share when travelling. The technology builds on the biometrics used for domestic passenger travel or when EU citizens cross the border into the UK. It would only match their image to what is stored on the biometric chip on their passport,” the spokesperson said.

Last year, British Airways integrated facial recognition into border control gates, and has since reported a drop by 50% in boarding times regarding the use of its biometrics in the US.

Heathrow Airport’s upgrade was announced in 2018, with the £50m project’s tech being delivered by Yoti. Gatwick Airport has said it will trial facial technology in June.


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