Orlando airport becomes first airport to commit to facial recognition tech

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) announced today joint efforts to advance the biometric exit mandate and transform the traveler experience at Orlando International Airport (MCO).

MCO is the first airport in the United States to commit to processing all arriving and departing international travelers with facial recognition technology.

“We are at a critical turning point in the implementation of a biometric entry-exit system, and we’ve found a path forward that transforms travel for all travelers,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

“The valuable collaboration with stakeholder partners like GOAA has resulted in real momentum and it has brought us to where we are today, the first fully biometric entry-exit deployment at an airport.”

“We are committed to delivering a premiere travel experience to Orlando International Airport’s more than five million annual international passengers,” said Phil Brown, GOAA CEO.

“By incorporating biometric technology into our entry and exit processes, safety, security and speed are optimized so customers can enjoy a more streamlined and comfortable journey through Florida’s busiest airport.”

Based upon its commitment to innovation and public-private partnerships, CBP built a facial biometric matching service to support airport and airline stakeholder integration for biometric exit and other passenger services.

A facial biometric capture device (camera) can be installed at an airline or airport departure gate without any significant changes to existing airport physical infrastructure. A biometric entry-exit system based on facial recognition is minimally disruptive to the flow of travel.

Currently, CBP is testing biometric exit at 13 major airports across the United States. The facial recognition verification process takes less than 2 seconds, with a 99 percent matching rate.

CBP chose facial biometrics because it seamlessly integrates into the airport boarding process. CBP compares the photographs of travelers with those that are already on file in DHS holdings. No new data is required.

CBP has also implemented facial comparison technology for arrival processing at 10 locations, which includes four Preclearance locations. The new simplified arrival process enables increased security, faster throughput, and better efficiency.

CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has published several Privacy Impact Assessments, employed strong technical security safeguards, and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the new biometric process.

In addition to Orlando, CBP has facial recognition operations in Miami, Atlanta, New York JFK, San Diego, Houston (Intercontinental and Hobby), Washington Dulles, Las Vegas, Chicago O’Hare, and Preclearance locations in Aruba, Abu Dhabi, and Ireland (Shannon and Dublin).

CBP also has partnerships with Delta, Jet Blue, British Airways, Lufthansa and Air New Zealand and will continue to expand public-private partnerships to advance biometric exit and enhance the passenger experience from curb to gate.