D4FLY streamlines and enhances verification at border crossing points

D4FLY streamlines and enhances verification at border crossing points How biometric technology is speeding up verification while maintaining security

Passengers are flocking back to airports, with global air passenger traffic in November 2022 achieving a 75.3% recovery from the same month in 2019, prior to the pandemic, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Advanced technological solutions need to be developed in parallel to keep in line with passenger growth. The EU-funded D4FLY research project has already explored and introduced significant advances in document and biometric verification to improve the security and efficiency of border controls, thereby creating a smoother border control experience.

After three years of project work, the D4FLY consortium met in October 2022 to examine their final results. They presented pioneering border control technologies, such as biometric corridors that enable on-the-move verification, for innovative identity verification at border crossings. These all meet the overall aim of making travel safer and more hassle-free for passengers.

Armin Reuter, Director Innovation Projects at Veridos: “The D4FLY project delivers innovative technological solutions for the safe yet comfortable digital passenger experience of the future.”


D4FLY aims to speed up secure border control

The D4FLY project, funded by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 research framework program, involved 19 partners, including representatives from border control authorities, universities, research institutes and industrial companies. Veridos coordinated the project and led the development of prototypes.

The partners investigated and tried out solutions to accelerate and ease border crossings, with the vision of creating a seamless on-the-fly border control solution while upholding the utmost levels of security.

The technologies reviewed are still at different levels of maturity. Some are already employed with end-users; some are in the product development stage, while others require more research.

Border automation: digitalization individual steps of the traveler’s journey

At many airports we can see aspects of digitalization, for example eGates or Kiosks, being implemented to streamline the traveler journey. In addition to managing crowds more efficiently, border automation technologies can also enhance security. A major challenge is utilizing a set of security elements that are difficult to forge yet easy to verify. At a border control booth, in addition to checking the document’s authenticity, the border guard visually compares the image to the person in front of them. An eGate on the other hand, uses facial recognition technology as a basis and verifies the face against the details stored on the chip.  Border automation technologies was also a large part of the D4FLY project.

Biometric corridors check identities “on-the-move”

A biometric corridor, for example, can speed travelers through border control in the shortest possible time. This solution exploits biometric technologies to identify passengers as they move through an areasuch as at airports or cruise terminals. It combines 3D facial image recognition, iris verification and somatotype analysis. The latter captures full-body images of passengers walking through the corridor. Once the image is matched against previously captured reference data, travelers don’t even have to stop but can simply proceed on their journey.

The first prototype of such a biometric corridor has already been developed by D4FLY. To take advantage of this, travelers need to voluntarily register and enroll themselves at D4FLY self-service prototype kiosk.

In future, biometric corridors could provide border control “on the move”, removing the need for contact with multiple staff and authorities and also managing the flow of passengers.

D4FLY has also tested techniques to detect presentation attacks, where, for example, face masks are worn to outsmart biometric verification technology.

3D face recognition accurately captures images in single shot

Another area offering tremendous potential is 3D face recognition technology. This provides far greater accuracy than traditional 2D technology, although it can be challenging to capture an image.

The D4FLY project achieved positive results here when using innovative light field cameras from project partner Raytrix to capture a 3D image in a single shot, as well as newly developed matching algorithms, based on neural networks.

Neural networks and machine learning offer great possibilities for the future. These require large amounts of data to yield highly accurate results. The standards for using this sophisticated technology are constantly under review in Europe, with ethical, societal and legal viewpoints considered. Special workshops were carried out as part of the D4FLY project to look at the implications of using these types of automated systems for border control.

Making passenger travel safer and stress free

For progress to be continually made in this fast-moving sector, excellent cooperation is necessary. As Reuter said: “D4FLY was such a success thanks to the close cooperation between all of the partners and the border officials. This ensured that research results could be tailored to meet the needs of border officials.”

Going forward, research institutes, universities, and industry stakeholders are urged to strengthen their cooperation in order to further augment the capabilities and capacities of border control officials and to make passenger travel safer and stress free.

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