The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this month published its first blueprint that puts forth its vision for developing and deploying capabilities along the identity management process, from enrolling and credentialing, through identity proofing, vetting and then verifying identities as part of everyday operations.

The TSA Identity Management Roadmap builds on the agency’s 2018 Biometrics Roadmap, which laid out plans to begin adopting biometric technologies to strengthen aviation security through improving the verification of individual identities and improving the passenger travel experience through an airport.

Since then, TSA has conducted numerous evaluations of facial comparison technology at airport security checkpoints and is nearing its goal to use the technology in routine operations.

The Identity Management Roadmap has four goals, each with several underlying objectives, and include enhancing the credential holder and passenger experience during enrollment and making travel reservations, expand and evolve standards for identity proofing to support vetting and verification activities, evolving vetting capabilities to respond to new threats, policies and technologies, and finally, supporting identity verification activities across the agency.

The new roadmap builds on the “Biometrics Roadmap by articulating a comprehensive end-to-end strategy for IDM at TSA and chronicling the next iteration of TSA’s thinking on biometrics,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske says in a foreword to the document. “This Roadmap will serve as a blueprint for future IDM work across the Agency and addendums will be published to expand on emerging priority topics.”

CAT Plans

To aid its identity verification of travelers, TSA has been rolling out credential authentication technology (CAT) devices (CAT) at the Travel Document Checker position at airport security checkpoints. The CAT units, small portable desktop devices, ingest a traveler’s driver’s license to enable a background check against the TSA Secure Flight vetting database, verify that a person has a flight reservation that day, and verify the authenticity of the travel document.

IDEMIA provides the CAT systems to TSA.

TSA plans to eventually transition to the CAT-2 device, which includes a camera, and will require an individual to self-scan their identity credentials to verify the authenticity of the document, and pause for a live photo that is compared to the photo on the credential to verify that he or she is the valid holder of the credential. This capability is currently being piloted, Jason Lim, TSA’s identity management capabilities manager, said in early March during a webinar hosted by Future Travel Experience.

TSA early this summer also plans to conduct pilot evaluations at three airports of what it calls AutoCAT, which is an eGate configuration that includes the same features as CAT-2 for a touchless travel experience and allows the agency to consider different staffing models, essentially allowing a Transportation Security Officer to oversee multiple lanes at once while also processing more passengers, Lim said.

The CAT-2 machine will also be used to read and process digital identities such as mobile driver’s licenses, he said.

TSA also plans to use the CAT-2 devices at its PreCheck trusted traveler lanes at security checkpoints to use a person’s live photo as their identity credential. For this setup, the live photo will be compared to a small database of images maintained by Customs and Border Protection and will also be used to check against a person’s Secure Flight vetting status.

Lim said that pilot evaluations with CAT-2 in PreCheck lanes are forthcoming to evaluate system performance and validate final requirements.

“At the same time, this is something that we definitely have to work in concert with the airlines so that we are developing a set of…standardized onboarding process to really onboard additional airlines and airport partners on this capability that we’re producing for the trusted travelers,” he said.

CBP uses its Traveler Verification Service to create image galleries of individuals due to depart from the U.S., and arrive to the U.S., on international flights on a specific day. TSA PreCheck participants provide their facial photo at enrollment into the program, which the agency in turn will use to add to the TVS gallery for flights on a given day.

The CAT-2 for PreCheck will also undergo a series of pilot evaluations, Lim said.

Delta’s Biometrics Use

Delta Air Lines [DAL] is already using face recognition in an operational evaluation to explore the use of the technology to improve the passenger experience at several touchpoints at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

The airline is using the technology with its frequent fliers on a voluntary basis that are also enrolled in PreCheck. The self-serve bag drop using face recognition technology to identify the traveler takes about 25 seconds versus the typical 2.5 minutes with an agent-assisted bag drop, Greg Forbes, managing director if airport experience for Delta, said during the webinar.

At the checkpoint, passengers enrolled in the biometric evaluation use what Forbes described as an eCAT machine, which takes a live photo for comparison against the TVS database to identify the individual and verify their flight status. No physical identification needs to be presented, he said.

At the boarding gate, passengers have the option of presenting a paper boarding pass, a digital boarding pass, or having a live photo taken to verify their identity and ensure they are on that flight, he said.

It’s all about “Quick, convenient and effortless,” Forbes said.

The airline is also implementing the biometric technology at an airport in Detroit.