The facial recognition project, Biometric Enabled Seamless Travel (BEST), has so far registered 2,605 passengers at Delhi Airport since its launch in September 2019, according to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
With the facial recognition technology, passengers’ entry is automatically processed based on facial recognition system at all checkpoints, including airport entry, entry into security checks, and aircraft boarding.
Minister of State in the Civil Aviation Ministry, Hardeep Singh Puri, on December 12, said in Lok Sabha that the government had launched BEST under its DigiYatra scheme, which was launched in 2018.
Minister of State in the Civil Aviation Ministry, Hardeep Singh Puri further revealed that airports at Kolkata, Pune, Vijayawada, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Mumbai and Delhi are covered in the first phase of the DigiYatra rollout.
BEST was first rolled at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for a three-month trial of biometric facial recognition entry system for domestic passengers of Vistara airline at Terminal 3.
Notably, the Vistara flight UK864 from Bengaluru to Mumbai was the first to experiment with the image identification technology after trials in Hyderabad. It was put to effect for all Vistara flights departing from the airport by October 2019, as part of phase one of the Digi Yatra project.
The technology was also extended to the Terminal 2 of the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL). It is currently integrated with check-in and self-bag drop processes to include other domestic and international airlines as well.
At the time of facial data registration, Digi Yatra Platform takes consent from the user for sharing of face data for the airport checkpoint clearance only. Additionally, another consent is taken from passengers for opting for any value-added services that the passenger may wish to avail from the Digi Yatra ecosystem partners.
Moreover, the government claims that for an enrolled passenger, at the time of entry, a copy of a recently captured face will be shared with the local airport for temporary usage. This facial data cannot be stored by airports for longer than the duration of transit of passenger and facial data will be purged out of the system within one hour after flight departs.