India will start using facial recognition technology at airports, instead of boarding passes, to allow passengers to go through security checks and boarding gates.
The Civil Aviation Ministry launched Digi Yatra, a digital biometric service that will use facial recognition to save data and process passengers’ information at checkpoints for entry and security.
The service is voluntary and is presently available for domestic flights at select airports.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who launched the service at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, urged passengers to use the “great time-saving technology”.
“India will now have the most sophisticated biometric-based passenger system in the world,” Mr Scindia said on Thursday.
“The Indian system has been made far more seamless from entry to exit and therefore will be one of the most efficient systems from across the world,” he said.
Passengers have to download the app and share details such as their name, email address, mobile number and the Unique Identification Number issued by the government for one-time registration and a self-image capture.
A Digi Yatra ID will be created. It will need to be shared while booking tickets. Airlines will share this ID and passenger data with the airport.
It will be initially launched at seven airports including Delhi, Varanasi and Bengaluru.
To maintain a passenger’s privacy, the ID and travel credentials will be stored in a secure wallet in their smartphone.
The uploaded data will use blockchain technology and all the data will be purged from the servers within 24 hours of use, the Civil Aviation Ministry said.
The service has brought a sense of relief among passengers, who are used to waiting in long queues at many Indian airports.
“This is the first time I have used this facility, it is saving a lot of time. I will suggest the government launch this service at all other airports,” a passenger at Varanasi airport said.