A new world of frictionless travel is closer than you may think

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What is ‘friction’ in your travel experience? Loosely defined, friction is those interruptions at various points during a journey where you provide identity and travel documents to transit through secure areas, board your flight and reach your final destination. All travelers generally agree with the need for these traditional points of friction, especially given the world of heightened aviation security we have lived in for the past 20 years. However, the emergence of a new generation of identity verification solutions and technologies has created opportunities to reduce these points of friction without sacrificing security.

TSA’s screening process has evolved from a post-9/11 ‘one-size-fits-all’ security approach to an intelligence-driven, risk-based strategy. TSA risk-based security practices expedite screening for known and trusted travelers at security checkpoints while focusing resources on high-risk and unknown passengers. Over a million passengers currently experience some form of expedited screening daily in the USA.

Another way of thinking about reducing those friction points is to look at how you view your own personal identity data and how it travels with you, securely. We live in a world of risks, where we are mindful every day of identity fraud and hacking of personal devices. The fears these threats cause and the precautions we take to protect ourselves are sometimes viewed as necessary limits to how freely we travel. New technologies and innovations are starting to unlock those limitations, allowing people to move more seamlessly with reduced risk. In other words, when you are confident knowing your personal identity is secure, the more the world is unlocked for you.

One company, Idemia, has been at the forefront of innovations for decades by providing trusted identity verification programs in the USA and worldwide.

This expertise, backed by over 1,500 technology patents, has enabled Idemia to deliver identity verification solutions in the travel sector that are creating a more seamless experience, reducing the time spent transiting those points of friction in the journey. Since 2013, Idemia has helped enroll more than 13 million travelers in the TSA PreCheck program in the US. Enrollment is conducted at more than 450 enrollment centers nationwide operating at more than 200 airports. According to TSA, in April 2022, 94% of those who used the TSA PreCheck program spent five minutes or less at security checkpoints, significantly reducing friction.

Emerging technologies are further helping reduce friction points in travel. Many US states are now deploying digital identification (IDs), such as mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs), that accompany traditional physical identity cards. Earlier this year, Apple announced that in states with participating mDLs, these can now be added to the user’s Apple Wallet application and will be accepted for testing and evaluation purposes at select US airports, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona. Another newer technology, Idemia’s first- and second-generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, are facilitating a more streamlined experience at some TSA checkpoints.

Other innovative initiatives include Idemia’s deployment of identity verification technology for departing international travelers at Oakland International Airport in California. This biometric technology that validates travelers departing the US has the flexibility to be deployed as a standalone unit, desktop unit or as a ready-to-integrate OEM kit. At Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, a biometric self-boarding pilot program was launched in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Idemia is facilitating a facial recognition system to help US Customs and Border Protection increase air passengers’ security and border control. The technology has been deployed in LAX’s new West Gates with Idemia’s partner, Easier, offering a one-stop safety solution for passengers, airlines and airports alike.

And in another initiative aimed at making access to the TSA PreCheck program seamless and even easier, Idemia has been working with TSA and airports across the US to launch on-site TSA PreCheck registration services to travelers waiting to depart so they can use the program on future trips once they are approved by TSA. This on-site enrollment service has been successfully piloted in several airports such as Jackson and Gulfport (Mississippi) and Louisville (Kentucky). Long-term deployments of this service are in Nashville (Tennessee) and Austin (Texas), with more airports launching soon.

There is no magic solution for achieving a frictionless experience for travelers; however, these innovative and popular programs in the US are continuously reducing friction for travelers as the evolution towards a world of digital identity continues.

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About Author

Lisa Sullivan is the senior vice president, travel and transport (T&T) for IDEMIA I&S North America, a long-time provider of identity and security solutions to both government and commercial customers. In this critical role, Sullivan serves on IDEMIA’s Executive Committee and leads flagship accounts at Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CPB), as well as implementations with leading travel ecosystem players like Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Newark Airport (EWR), Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), and Virgin Voyages.

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