The face of a passenger face will soon be able to serve as his or her boarding pass under the Digi Yatra initiative of the union civil aviation ministry, in an attempt towards seamless travel experience.
In a policy document released on Thursday, the civil aviation ministry said that facial recognition will form the basis for this biometric-based travel experience at check-in point, security area, boarding gate and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will issue draft regulations today for public consultation in this regard.
CNBC-TV18 had exclusively reported on October 3 that the government has finalised a common set of standards for biometric-based boarding based on facial recognition, which would include creation of a Digi Yatra identity.
"Under the Digi Yatra, a passenger can get a Digi Yatra ID by sharing minimum details like name, email ID, mobile number and details of one approved identity proof, where Aadhar ID is not mandatory. This Digi Yatra ID will be shared by passengers while booking the ticket. Airlines will share the passenger data and Digi Yatra ID with the departure airport,” the civil aviation ministry said.
A passenger, who has created the Digi Yatra ID has to undergo a one-time verification at the departure airport during his or her first travel.
In case a passenger opted for Aadhar based verification, the identity will be verified online. On successful verification, facial biometric will be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID profile of the passenger.
In case, the passenger has chosen any other identity for creating Digi Yatra ID, verification will be done manually by security personal and facial biometric will be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID profile.
"When the passenger reaches the airport and scans the barcode or boarding pass at the gate, a camera will capture the face for comparing with Digi Yatra ID photo. On successful verification of the travel details and facial matching, the electronic gate will open," the civil aviation ministry said.
Hence, at subsequent check points, the passenger will gain entry through face recognition.
“Airlines, airports and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security are on board for Digi Yatra. It’s a forward-looking, futurstic approach,” union minister for civil aviation Suresh Prabhu said.
The Digi Yatra central platform, which will get created by February, will be operated by a joint venture of Airports Authority of India (AAI) and other private airports.
However, the government is still finalising the equity share of state-run AAI in the venture and is seeking NITI Aayog approval for the same.
The initiative is likely to kickstart at Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports in February, while AAI is expected to implement it at Varanasi, Vijayawada, Pune and Kolkata by April and will then gradually duplicate the exercise at other airports.
"Digi Yatra will provide a pan-India powerful platform for future. Airports will have the possibility of providing innovative services and consent based targeted services in future. Any service provider involved in facilitating travel of passenger from door to door will be able to use this platform in future through innovative solutions. The ultimate beneficiary will be the passenger," the ministry said.
Besides, airport operator will be able to do better resource planning and the real-time data of passengers within the terminal will enable the operator to take proactive action to avoid congestion.
“Security will also benefit from the ability of the technology to verify the passenger at every checkpoint in a non-intrusive way except that physical frisking of the passenger as per security procedures will continue. Intentional boarding pass exchange by passengers or wrong boarding by mistake will not happen,” the civil aviation ministry said.