Seamless mobility: Digitizing the traveler journey
Seamless mobility: Digitizing the traveler journey Andreas Kuba – Global Vice President Sales and Nick Larter – Senior Solutions Manager IDMS (speech at ICAO TRIP, Montreal, Canada | 13 September 2023)
Nick Larter: As a Canadian citizen living abroad, my travel from Europe to Montreal to join you today should have been as seamless as possible. However, although the journey was okay, Andreas and I believe that it could have been better.
At Veridos, we provide standard compliance solutions across the entire travel ecosystem, both physical and digital. We provide our customers with secure credentials and automated border control services that allow us to be here today. In our discussion on seamless mobility, we'd like to show how we can support you throughout your seamless travel journey. So Andreas, if we want to talk about making the process more seamless, we should probably start at the beginning.
Andreas Kuba: In my role, I have the privilege of talking daily with our clients and stakeholders worldwide. They share with us their challenges, concerns, and ideas on how to make the traveler journey more seamless.
Listening to our stakeholders, we understand that security and trust are still paramount. Processes designed with security in mind result in having to show your passports up to 8 times on average during international travel. This means waiting time, lining up for visa queues at the airport, redundant processes at border controls, and ultimately, a frustrated traveler. Our customers and stakeholders, supported by analysis from the G20, want to digitize the future of the seamless travel experience. This includes visa requirements and acquisition, digital traveler identity, biometrics and security, multimodal transport, and visitor handling information and management. Many things can already be done online today, but as a traveler, I still can't provide secure validated reference information.
Understanding stakeholder concerns for seamless travel
Nick Larter: Everyone in this room is a stakeholder. We have people representing the industry, international organizations such as ICAO, and international governments. But we are all stakeholders in the sense that we are also travelers.
I'd like you to think back to when you arrived at Montreal airport. You get off the plane, walk through, go up to the customs booth, and have your passport clutched in your hands, knowing that it offers you access to the world. You may also have a printed copy of your visa. In that moment, you have to trust that these documents and the systems that read them will work. Thanks to international regulations and advancements in technology, they did work. We're very cognizant of the important role that these documents and systems play. When we work with our product and development teams to improve this seamless travel process through digitized solutions, we know that these documents and systems have to work 100% of the time.
Andreas Kuba: But travelers are just one of the stakeholders in that equation. When we design the seamless traveler journey, we have to consider the needs of all stakeholders. For all parties, the journey needs to be highly secure, more digital, and even more convenient. The more digital the processes become, the easier the exchange of information between stakeholders is.
Governments can adopt a flexible, risk, and needs-based approach to visa and admission requirements, the travel industry can reduce bottlenecks and improve passenger flow, and travelers can enjoy a more seamless and carefree travel. Let's take a closer look at the traveler journey. How should it be?
Before my current role, I was responsible for the identity documents business at Veridos. We have seen how ePassports have changed the way we travel and enabled the automation of certain processes. For example, biometric verification based on ePassports and the use of eGates for several different use cases. Border automation was a first step towards border digitization and achieving a seamless travel journey. But Nick, can this be digitized even further?
Optimizing travel: The future of digital credentials and seamless travel experiences
Nick Larter: Indeed, it can. Andreas and I believe that a high level of optimization is possible with the existing ePassport systems we have today. Digital-first strategies, such as the one highlighted by our colleague at Entrust, begin with the ePassport as a central route. However, an example of digitization could very well be the use of that ePassport with an automated border system, or an eGate. But let's think about a more digitized world, and consider our traveler from Utopia. When this traveler leaves the house at the beginning of a journey, they might forget their house keys, their wallet, or their passport. But the one thing that they're not likely to forget is their mobile phone. That's where I'd like to have my credential.
When we talk about digital travel credentials on the mobile phone, I see this as a logical expansion of an ePassport, particularly with the DTC Type 1. We allow holders of valid travel documents to securely exchange data with trusted third parties in both the public and private sectors. This isn't limited to citizen-to-government or citizen-to-airport transactions. We see this across multimodal transport and also in the private sector. I think there are many intersections between the initiatives in the DTC world, along with the ISO 18013-5 and future -7 mobile driver license initiatives and digital IDs.
When implementing these digital solutions, we have to remember that security and convenience are key and almost equally important. With both of the solutions now behind me, we are contributing to the digitized seamless travel process. The traveler's journey begins at home, and this is important not just for the traveler themselves, who can begin their identity proofing from the comfort of their own home. This is also crucial because advanced information is key for early detection of fraudulent travel or risks that governments or airlines should be aware of.
So when we think about how to make this process better, let's think back to the diverse groups that Andreas mentioned previously. For governments, we want to enable rapid processing through border services for low-risk travelers with our solutions. We want to take the finite resources that they have available and focus them on the exception cases that need to be addressed. When we look at our partners in the airlines, we should consider the eight identity checks per travel. We want to help alleviate this burden and do this in advance so that airlines and their partners can get back to their core business, which is transporting authorized travelers safely from point A to point B, supporting commerce and tourism. And then let's return to all of us, the travelers. Of course, we want to feel secure along our journey, and the solutions we provide need to support that. But we also want a higher level of convenience than may be available today.
Revolutionizing travel with SmartTravel and VeriGo MobileTravel Assist
SmartTravel is our ICAO-compliant digital travel authorization platform. It allows us to cover all steps of the travel authorization process, beginning at home where the citizen applies for their authorization to travel. The same platform then allows border authorities or government agencies to approve that travel or put it into a queue for special handling. We also provide the technologies available to verify this digital travel authorization when the traveler is underway. This brings convenience and security for all of the key actors in this traveler process.
VeriGo MobileTravel Assist is our Type 1 digital travel credential. It's combined with the ICAO standards and allows for ePassport use, giving that document a voice at the beginning of the journey. We've looked at a lot of interesting use cases where an ePassport and a DTC Type 1 can function in harmony together. Or the DTC Type 1 functions as an emergency travel credential, let's say you lose your passport along your journey.
I have mentioned the DTC Type 1 and some of the colleagues have also alluded to Type 2 and Type 3. I think it's important to state here that DTC Type 1 is not a digital ID in the way that we would imagine it with a mobile ID or mobile driver license, and that it doesn't exclusively replace the document for travel purposes. A DTC Type 1 is a user-generated credential as it's derived from a signed physical document. You, as a citizen, receive your signed ePassport from the authority and derive your Type 1 from this document. Type 2 and Type 3 in the future will be signed by the issuing authorities. Importantly, and we have ICAO to thank for this, because DTC Type 1 is derived from a credential issued by the registered authority, we can consider the Type 1 as having been issued by the travel authority and using these credentials with the same level of security for all use cases, both public and private.
Andreas Kuba: We're here in Montreal, right? It's the headquarters of ICAO. So what role does ICAO play in this journey?
ICAO's role in advancing digital credentials for seamless travel
Nick Larter: ICAO plays a very important role. ICAO defines and establishes the guiding principle for the structure and the use of these sorts of solutions. If we think about the ePassport world, who is better at supporting the interoperability between countries and solutions than ICAO? As we said with Type 1, the issuers – governments – sign the physical documents and then we, as users, derive our virtual credential, our VC, essentially creating a digital twin. As we see in the future, with Type 2 and Type 3, there's an advancement in technology and, guiding that advancement in technology, an advancement in regulation. With Type 2, we enter a different product where an issuer is signing a digital passport. ICAO states or recommends that the Type 2 is also accompanied by a physical passport along your journey. It's a good system; I have my smartphone but I have my passport as a backup. And Type 3 will rely on very similar technology, but I think Type 3 will be the biggest paradigm shift when we transition from having the passport as our primary travel document over to the mobile. ICAO is responsible for promoting interoperability, acceptance and really guiding us along this roadmap.
Andreas Kuba: With all these digital travel solutions, we can provide numerous improvements to the entire journey. For instance, using digital credentials in advance, even from the first visit to a country, can enable frequent travel schemes. Benefiting early from information about the existence of valid and general travel documents can facilitate various processes as well. Perhaps the travel industry can benefit from lower penalties with accurate and trusted data in advance. All of this increases the security of all stakeholders, including the governments securing the borders. So ultimately, from preparation all the way through to arrival, digital solutions foster cooperation amongst the authority and the travel industry.
We have two of our digital solutions that will help support you on your journey implementing seamless travel. No matter where you are in this journey, we can support you through automation and digitized aspects that can enhance security, convenience, and digitization.