If all goes well with PM Modi's dream project of DIGI Yatra, passengers travelling by air will take only a couple of minutes to board a flight across India. The airports would boast of hi-tech body scanners, facial recognition technology and cutting edge identity management system to simplify passenger processes at various check points in less than a minute.
Instead of standing in long queues to be frisked for security check, the passenger would be required to pass through a body scanner which takes less than five seconds to process security clearance. The other key-security points at the airport would have a Metro station-type flap gates which would open automatically by reading facial biometric identity of passengers.
The pilot project for DIGI Yatra has been done at a few select flights in Mumbai and Hyderabad beginning February this year. On Monday (July 22) the trial run was conducted on a Vistara flight UK 864 (to Mumbai) at Bangalore airport.
"The reports of trial run in Mumbai and Hyderabad have been positive. The facial recognition system has gone well with Pre Embarkation Security Check (PESC) to the last point of gate boarding. The passengers selected for trials were registered at the DIGI Yatra kiosk (at the airport) where facial expression of passengers were captured. The facial biometrics enabled the passenger to swiftly clear security points," said an Inspector General-level officers of CISF, which guards country's 61 airports. According to him, the process would be much more swift once body scanners are installed at airports.
At present a passenger has to clear 5 security gates, starting from departure and ending at the boarding gate. On an average, it takes more than an hour to clear the arduous security check procedure which includes long queues at check-in counters (for baggage) and for frisking of each passenger at the security checkpoint before proceeding to the boarding gate.
"To facilitate passengers to a seamless flow for air travel, the face would now be your boarding card. After taking the consent of the passenger, a facial recognition identity would be created. The passenger would then have to pass through flap gates, which would open using facial biometric technology," said the senior CISF officer.
An in-depth report of the Digi Yatra project prepared by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry says for a frequent flier, boarding through facial bio-metrics would save a great deal of time. If the passenger has no check-in luggage, the time spent from departure gate to board a plane would be only a couple of minutes.
The report says under Digi Yatra project a "passenger arriving at the airport with a boarding card or mobile phone (2D/QR code) registers at the biometrics kiosk. Then his face biometrics would be used at each flap gates(security points) providing a hassle-free journey. After clearing PESC, the passenger moves to the body scanner. Cameras installed in the PESC area will be used to monitor the proceedings and can be used for any forensic analysis."
Highly placed sources in the CISF said that trial runs are continuing at different airports. Once the body scanners (scheduled to be installed by airport operators by June 2019) are put in place, a final trial run will be conducted by the CISF. Sources said the entire process would take around two years.
Initially, Digi-Yatra will be launched at all domestic airports of metro cities. Later after integrating customs and immigration department in the facial biometric system, the project would also include international airports in India.