Govt unveils ‘digiyatra’ for seamless air travel

The Asian Age.

India, All India

Digiyatra voluntary, passengers wanting to travel without e-identification can continue to do so.

On scanning the bar code/ QR code the system will validate the passenger details and flight details. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry on Thursday formally unveiled its voluntary “digiyatra” electronic identification scheme for passengers using electronic facial recognition that will make the flying experience quicker and smoother for passengers wanting to avail of this.

For this, passengers will have to create a digiyatra ID in a central system expected to be ready by February, 2019, giving details such as name, e-mail id, mobile number and any one identity proof — either a voter id, driving licence or aadhar number and furnishing the digiyatra id number allocated by the central system at the time of booking tickets. Once the passenger reaches the airport, unique facial recognition will be captured electronically and linked to his or her digiyatra id. Thereafter, movement will be quick through special e-gates for check-in, security checks and boarding to the aircraft. Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports will be the first to launch this as a pilot project by the end of February next year while the state-run AAI will launch this initially at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada airports by April next year.

Officials said digiyatra would be voluntary and those passengers wanting to travel without this e-identification can continue to do so as done currently. The scheme was announced on Thursday in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu who said  the Digiyatra would “provide a pan-India powerful platform for future”.

The unique facial recognition recorded by the camera from various angles will capture expressions as well to ensure that it would differentiate even between identical twins. While initially, finger-printing was being considered for the electronic identification, it was later decided to use the facial recognition as it was considered more comprehensive, officials said.

The Civil Aviation Ministry said, “On the first travel (under digiyatra), the Passenger has to go to registration kiosk at the airport for validating the ID. In case of Aadhar the verification will be online. In case of other id, the CISF (that guards airports) will manually verify. On successful verification , the photo of the passenger will be added to Digi Yatra profile in central system.  At the entry point E-Gate the passenger will scan his boarding pass or e-ticket (Print or a soft copy in mobile). On scanning the bar code/ QR code the system will validate the passenger details and flight details. The Digi Yatra ID will verify the identity by Face Recognition.”

The ministry added, “On successful verification of Ticket and Digi Yatra ID, e-Gate will open. Also, Face (facial image) with ticket PNR is made in to a single token for the rest of the journey at the airport. Passengers will gain entry to security area and aircraft Boarding through e-Gate operated on Facial Recognition System. Passengers need not show boarding pass or ID at multiple check points. There will be minimum human intervention and less queuing time.”

The ministry further said, “The security is enhanced as the system will map the passenger with the PNR. Only bona fide passenger will be allowed entry at every check point. Airport operator will have real time information on Passenger load and resource planning becomes better. Airlines will be benefitted by knowing the passenger position in the airport.”

As per the scheme, passengers will be “automatically processed based on facial recognition system at check points” such as Entry point check, Security Check and Aircraft Boarding and this will also facilitate self Bag Drop and Check-in, using facial recognition to identify passenger and data recall”. The ministry said the Digiyatra will facilitate paperless travel and avoid identity check at multiple points.”

Explaining the procedure, the ministry said, “Passengers can create Digi Yatra ID in a central system by providing the following—Name, Email ID, Mobile Number, Details of Identity (either Voter Id, Driving License, Aadhar etc). On submission Digi Yatra Id will be created. Passengers can quote this number while booking the ticket. Passenger data including Digi Yatra ID will be passed on to departure airport by the airlines.”

The Government also announced that the “Digiyatra Central platform will be operational by end of February, 2019 and that Bengaluru and Hyderabad will be ready with pilot implementation by end of February  2019”. It added, “The state-run AAI intends to roll out the programme initially at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada, by April 2019.” Other airports in the country will be covered under the scheme subsequently.

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