Smile! Orlando International Airport to Streamline Customs with Biometric Technology

The Orlando International Airport plans to reduce wait times for overseas travelers by tapping into popular technology.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the governing body of the airport, approved $4 million in funding to upgrade its processing system with facial recognition technology for arrival and departure travelers. The airport will be the first in the U.S. to be part of the U.S. Customs & Border Protection Biometric Entry & Exit Program with the airport's 30 international gates equipped with the technology. The system has been in testing with British Airways passengers traveling to Orlando and the United Kingdom. The technology allows flights to board in less than 15 minutes and eliminates the need for passengers to handle boarding passes and passports at the time of boarding.

Here's how Orlando International Airport describes it:

How the exit process works:
Prior to boarding, [Customs] generates biometric templates of the historical images (including passport and visa photos) of travelers for a given flight and temporarily stores them in the Virtual Private Cloud. Each traveler approaches the departure gate during boarding to stand for a photo, which is captured by a camera, operated by airlines/airport authorities. The matching service verifies the traveler’s identity by comparing the best photo taken prior to boarding to the historical images in the [Customs] database. Once verified, the passenger can board.

How the entry process works:
[Customs] uses airline manifest data to retrieve existing traveler photographs from government databases, including passports and visas, to build a photo gallery of travelers who are expected to arrive in the United States. At the inspection booth, [Customs] captures a photograph of the traveler and matches it to a photograph in the pre-assembled gallery. After the matching service verifies the traveler’s identity, the [Customs] Officer conducts an inspection to establish the purpose and intent of travel and thus either directs the traveler to baggage claim or refers the traveler to secondary for further inspection.

“Customer satisfaction is always our top priority and the goal of the board is to make the journey through Orlando International Airport as enjoyable as possible,” said Frank Kruppenbacher, chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, in a prepared statement. “This program will benefit our more than 6 million annual international passengers by delivering a simpler travel process.”

Speeding up the airport process is an integral piece to the overall Orlando experience for visitors. Smooth transitions on and off of planes and into the Orlando area impact how guests first experience and remember the region. So a smoother process can help encourage more visitation to Central Florida, which is a boon for the region's $60 billion tourism industry.
Orlando Business Journal 4/18/2018