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New Data Security Services Will Improve Passenger Flow

News Release

New Data Security Services Will Improve Passenger Flow and Experience at Airports – Unisys

WELLINGTON – 24 April 2013 – New services designed to improve the experience of travellers and increase passenger flow efficiency will put new scrutiny on how airports collect and protect personal information of air travellers, predicts Unisys (NYSE: UIS).

As airports and airlines innovate to attract travellers and improve customer service, there will be an increasing need for them to protect the personal data they collect and store. For example, travellers may provide biometrics data or personal flight details that can be used to get them through the airport faster. But airports and airlines must protect the data to ensure their customers’ security and privacy.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in 2013 more than three billion passengers will travel by air, almost double the number that flew in 2001. And that number is expected to double again by 20301. Globally, airports are faced with competing challenges of attracting passengers to their facility by offering an improved passenger experience while increasing productivity and efficiency of their staff and assets.

“To remain competitive, airports – often in cooperation with airlines – are developing and testing innovative ways to offer personalised services for air travellers and automate processes for faster passenger flow through the airport,” said Sury Chavali, Head of the Aviation practice for Unisys Asia Pacific.

For example, Gatwick Airport has developed a mobile application to provide personalised assistance to passengers. The application biometrically identifies the passenger at the airport’s car park entrance and then automatically provides information for the traveler’s airport journey, ranging from check-in desk location to customised retail offers2.

“This marks a fundamental change as airports themselves may now be responsible for collecting and storing personal data, whereas previously that area of data collection has been the realm of airlines and border control agencies. Airports will need to show how they are protecting the passenger data collected for these services if they are to gain public support and be used,” Mr Chavali said.

In some cases airports are working in cooperation with airlines to develop new services. Heathrow Airport and South African Airways trialled a self-boarding gate solution to help passengers board their flight faster and more efficiently by comparing facial scans at the ‘self-boarding’ gate with biometric data collected at the check-in stage. If the scans match, the passenger can board their flight. With this technology, a passenger’s identity needs to be checked by airline staff only once in the whole departure process, allowing them to spend more time with passengers who need assistance3.

“While it is generally accepted that government agencies use passenger data for border control within airports, there is likely to be sensitivity when such data is used for other purposes,” Mr. Chavali said.

“It’s a balancing act,” he added. “Passengers want their journey through the airport to be fast and easy, but they will want to know that their personal data is secure and only used for the purpose that they gave permission for it to be used. To gain public acceptance of these innovative initiatives, and reap the benefits, airports will need to show the steps they are taking to protect passenger’s personal data. They will need to clearly communicate with passengers and other stakeholders what data is collected; who has access to it; for what purpose will it be used; how long it will be kept; and most importantly, how it will be secured”

About Unisys Asia Pacific
In Asia Pacific, Unisys delivers services and solutions through subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan and through distributors or resellers in other countries in the region. For more information visit Follow us on


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