Edinburgh Airport uses face scans to cut security queues


28 May 2013

Cameras will regularly scan the faces of passengers at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland in the latest move by officials to cut queues at security screenings. The state-of-the-art facial recognition equipment from Human Recognition Systems installed throughout the baggage check and security area was scheduled to go live in early summer 2013. Trials of the MFlow Journey cameras had started during April as airport management company Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) conceded it had recently failed to contain lengthy queues. Passengers had been forced to wait for up to 30 min to get through the security screening zone during peak periods. Each camera has a swirling blue LED light on the front designed to attract a person’s attention. The technology takes snapshots of a passenger’s face to capture their location as they travel through security. Staff are able to subsequently measure queue lengths and journey times, with officials to use the data to direct resources at bottlenecks by putting on extra staff or opening more screening machines. Human Recognition Systems (HRS) said that a person’s identification was not recorded by the snapshots. An HRS spokesman said: “It takes an image of a passenger’s face, but it converts that image into a code. It’s not like it will store an image of the passenger and keep that on file. That code can’t be reverse-engineered to create an image. As the passenger moves through the airport, it will time the passage between way points. The airport will then set a target time they would like to see their passengers flow through those way points.” The facial recognition technology has previously been installed at London Gatwick and London City airports, which are also operated by GIP.

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