TSA Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security & the Passenger Experience

According to the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA], 2,587,000 passengers fly in and out of airports in the United States every single day. This is a staggering number of people for the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] to manage every day. Over the years, the TSA has used a variety of screening techniques for passengers, to enhance both security and the expediency of the traveler experience.

On 15 October 2018, the TSA released its “plan to expand the use of biometrics technology as part of its continued effort to enhance security and the traveler experience.” The goal of the TSA Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security & the Passenger Experience is to “guide the agency’s biometric efforts to modernize aviation passenger identity verification in the coming years.”

The TSA explains that as of now, TSA agents conduct most passenger identification and identity verification by inspecting documentation carried by the passenger and comparing it to the passenger’s physical appearance. However, the effective use of biometric identification technology in the process would be more expedient, more trustworthy, and more convenient than reliance on documentation alone. Already, facial recognition technologies and fingerprint identification technologies have been tested at major airports across the United States, including in Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles.

fingerprint scan

There are four primary goals contained in the newly-released TSA plan:

  1. Partner with CBP [Customs and Border Protection] on Biometrics for International Travelers
  2. Operationalize Biometrics for TSA PreCheck® Travelers
  3. Expand Biometrics to Additional Domestic Travelers
  4. Develop Supporting Infrastructure for Biometric Solutions

The TSA notes that it “will achieve its biometrics vision for all commercial aviation travelers” by advancing these “four overarching goals and associated objectives in parallel.” For more information on the biotechnology that the TSA hopes to mainstream, check out the TSA webpage on Biometric Technology.  For more information about the use of biometrics in homeland security, check out additional resources in the HSDL about Biometric Technology. For more documents published by the Transportation Security Administration, click here.

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