Shanghai airport first to launch automated clearance system using facial recognition technology
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, one of the city’s two major airports, introduced on Monday China’s first automated clearance system for airline passengers using facial recognition technology.
The automated clearance procedure was deployed at Shanghai Hongqiao’s Terminal One and includes unassisted passenger check-in, luggage check-in, security check and boarding, according to a statement posted on the Shanghai government’s official website.
It said the project, which took three years to complete, installed eight self security checking machines at the terminal. These machines scan passengers’ ID cards and make use of facial recognition technology to complete the security check process in about 12 seconds.
Although the terminal’s throughput per hour will remain at 10 million passengers, the quality of the clearance procedure will be improved, said Dai Xiaojian, the vice-president of operator Shanghai Airport (Group) Co, in the government statement. During rush hour at the airport, the terminal will be able to handle clearance of 2,000 passengers per hour, he said.
The system in Shanghai moved ahead of a planned deployment of facial recognition technology in Beijing’s new US$12 billion airport, which is designed to handle up to 100 million passengers a year at full capacity.
The new Zaha Hadid-designed airport, situated about 50 kilometres south of central Beijing, is expected to use the technology to match passengers to their belongings, so that unattended baggage is easily tracked and assessed for security risk. Facial recognition will also be used at the airport’s immigration section and for security checks of passengers.
China has made strides in facial recognition technology because of its large population and centralised identity databases. The technology, which uses biometric computer applications to automatically identify an individual from a database of digital images, is today used extensively in everyday life, including in such areas as public security, financial services, transport and retail across the country.
Although Chinese citizens have raised concerns about privacy protection, the country’s broader initiative to become a global leader in artificial intelligence has prompted major enterprises and local governments across the country to embrace facial recognition technology.
In 2015, the Ministry of Public Security launched a project to build the world’s most powerful facial recognition database to identify any one of China’s more than 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. The agency is developing that system with a security company based in Shanghai.
Various cities in China are already using facial recognition cameras to name and shame jaywalkers. Universities in the country use the technology to screen students and staff. Two border checkpoints between Hong Kong Shenzhen employ the technology to crack down on parallel traders who buy tax-free goods in Hong Kong and resell them in mainland China.