IATA OneID: building consensus in a multi-stakeholder collaboration | SITA

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IATA OneID: building consensus in a multi-stakeholder collaboration

Published on  19 April by Sean Farrell , Portfolio Director, Government and Security Solution Line
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Over the years SITA has been involved in many initiatives proving that biometrics can automate identity checks at borders and at multiple touch points in the journey.

ID management, based on biometric facial recognition, has become a more viable and secure technology, but expanding its use requires the development of standards and industry best practices. This will ensure interoperability between airports and across borders. 

In January 2018, IATA released a concept paper outlining its OneID initiative designed to develop a robust and scalable approach to identity management. The paper outlines how the aviation industry can provide seamless, secure passenger journeys through biometric recognition technology, while ensuring global interoperability based on common standards and best practices.

The idea is to create a future where passengers can travel globally using their biometric, without compromising their privacy – while enjoying familiar and easy-to-understand identity verification processes wherever they are.

This will require new standards to facilitate collaboration between airports, airlines and governments when checking traveler identities – much as ePassports do today – while giving governments the freedom to manage their borders according to their security needs.

However, any standards and best practices developed must not be so prescriptive that they prevent airlines and airports providing tailored passenger experiences that fit their unique business model – and they must work with existing industry IT infrastructure.

Trust framework

Data protection is key in this effort because the verification of travelers’ identities is reliant on access to verified personal biometric, biographic and travel data.

Sharing sensitive passenger data among air transport industry stakeholders – whether at an airport, between airports or across borders – requires a trust framework to ensure the privacy and fidelity of the data. A trust framework would ensure that data sharing is secure and done in compliance with laws and regulations as well as passenger’s expectations of privacy.

The challenge is how to create a trust framework that can work globally, while recognizing that the pace of change of technology in this area will certainly outstrip the ability of traditional industry standards bodies, such as ICAO, to keep up.

IATA’s approach to defining a trust framework should be agile, and avoid prescribing technology or solutions that would prohibit the industry in taking advantage of new emerging technologies in the future.

Building consensus

As part of the OneID initiative, IATA is looking to learn from early deployments of ID management projects, many of which are still in the proof of concept phase, and build consensus around four different areas:

  1. Implementation and process standpoint: how should the air transport industry implement identity management at the passenger touchpoint level, while ensuring consistency of process at different airports, and across different countries?
  2. Technology standpoint: what new standards need to be created and which existing ones need to be modified? Identity management crosses many different domains, including biometric quality, information interchange with governments, biometric storage, biometric security, and integration with airport systems.
  3. Legal and regulatory environment: to realize its full potential, new identity management solutions must be compliant with existing national and international regulations, particularly around data privacy.
  4. Business case: does it make sense for industry? What are the tangible and intangible benefits for industry stakeholders? Reduced staffing is a clear tangible benefit, while improved security is a more intangible benefit. Weighed against this is the cost of deploying technology.

Hurdles to overcome

With so many stakeholders involved in delivering end-to-end identity management, there are still several significant hurdles to overcome. IATA’s OneID vision of close technology collaboration – and even shared platforms between different stakeholders – will be difficult to fully achieve.

Governments have their own systems and processes to check traveler identities and assess risk, but historically they have been reluctant to share sensitive data. However, there are already well-established interfaces between governments and other industry stakeholders to share biographic data, so expanding these could be a fruitful approach for all concerned.

To make OneID a success, we need multi-stakeholder collaboration. These stakeholders must contribute to defining standards and best practices and guide technology choices. We need to avoid being too prescriptive on how solutions are built – such as how the process works at customer touchpoints for example. It’s important that the concept remains flexible enough to incorporate different technology approaches and differences in airport and airline business models.

And finally, because identity management is all about personal data, systems and processes need to put the passenger in control of their own data, what they share and with whom. Any other approach is likely to fail in the face of increasing data protection legislation, such as GDPR.

Read more about SITA ID management in SITA’s ‘Biometrics for better travel’ white paper. 

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