The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing equipment at Indianapolis International Airport to automate the identity verification process by matching a traveler’s live photo against the photo on their government-issued identification. Currently, identity verification is conducted manually by a TSA officer.
The pilot project uses a Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) unit that has been modified to include a camera. When a traveler approaches the CAT unit at the Travel Document Checker podium in the security checkpoint, they should insert their photo ID into the scanner. They should also briefly pause and lower their mask while the camera takes a photo. The CAT unit compares the facial features on the just-captured photo against the facial features on the photo ID, confirming the traveler’s identity through this automated process.
This self-service, touchless experience eliminates the need to hand over photo identification or boarding pass to a TSA officer, reducing potential cross-contamination while also promoting social distancing in the security checkpoint. It provides an added layer of security since CAT has the ability to flag fraudulent IDs or those that have been tampered with. The device displays results for face matching, ID authentication, and flight information to the TSA officer, who will be behind an acrylic shield to further minimize contact between the officer and passengers.
“This technology provides a safer checkpoint experience while maintaining the same high level of security,” Indiana TSA Federal Security Director Aaron Batt said. “We’ve seen a positive response from TSA PreCheck™ passengers, who appreciate being able to move through the security process quickly and with minimal direct contact with TSA officers.”
The credential authentication technology units authenticate several thousand types of IDs including:
- U.S. driver licenses and photo identification cards issued by state motor vehicle or licensing departments
- U.S. passports, Lawful Permanent Resident cards or visas
- U.S. Department of Defense’s Common Access Card program /retired and uniformed service military ID cards
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards
Signs near the checkpoint will provide notice to TSA PreCheck travelers at the airport on how to participate in the pilot, in addition to providing instructions on how to decline having their photo taken, although passenger IDs will still have to be scanned through the device for identity verification. Participating travelers may complete a brief survey via a QR code regarding their experience and satisfaction with the self-service system and its usability.