Vijayawada: The Union minister of state for civil aviation, General V.K Singh (retd), on Thursday informed the Parliament that the Vijayawada airport along with three more airports will have facial recognition technology by March 2022.
"Facial recognition technology (FRT) has not yet been introduced at any of the airports in India. However, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is working on a project of facial recognition technology-based biometric boarding system as part of the first phase of Digi Yatra Implementation at four airports (Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata, and Vijayawada)," said General Singh (retd).
Replying to the question asked by MPs Feroze Varun Gandhi and Ram Shankar Katheria, the minister replied that the proposed Digi Yatra Central Eco-system is planned to go live in March 2022. It is to be scaled up in a phased manner for adoption across various airports of the country.
AAI has engaged NEC Corporation Private Limited for the implementation of facial recognition technology-based biometric boarding system (BBS) at Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata, and Vijayawada airports as part of DigiYatra.
As per the Digi Yatra policy, registering for the Digi Yatra Central Ecosystem will be optional for passengers. To avail the Digi Yatra services, passengers can send their travel details (Pax details, PNR, and facial biometrics) through an app to the biometric boarding system of the respective departing airport. Moreover, if for a particular journey, the passenger does not want to avail of the Digi Yatra services then the passenger has an option to not send the data and use the existing manual process at airports.
"The Digi Yatra Central Ecosystem envisages assessments and periodic audits by governing/regulatory bodies like CERT-IN and/or STQC twice every year. Facial recognition is as per industry ISO standards with best in class NIST-listed algorithms complying with data privacy and data protection requirement as laid down by the government. Data shared by the passenger is to be used for the purpose defined and would not be shared with any other external stakeholders," said Gen. Singh to the question of the safeguards taken by the government to prevent the leakage of passenger data.
He added, "It is important to note that data shared by passengers is to be retained during the transit of the passenger at the airport and will not be retained for more than 24 hours after take-off/departure of the flight."
Gen. Singh said that with the implementation of Digi Yatra, seamless travel for passengers is being envisaged. Further, it will facilitate optimized utilization of resources of airports and airlines.