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NEWS Last modified on September 2, 2017

BLOG: Faces on the move – securing today’s airport

Face recognition has long been in use at airports for e-Gate and access control applications. These co-operative image capture applications involve a stationary subject actively looking at the camera. 

Technology has evolved such that now face recognition is suitable for non-cooperative or passive image capture of moving persons.

This 'Faces-on-the-Move' technology has numerous applications for security where persons of interest can be identified as they enter or move through a sensitive area.

Enhancing the Security Perimeter

While air-side security has long been the focus of efforts and resources, the airport ground-side remains for the most part a public and open environment where large queues and high profile targets create security vulnerabilities. 

Faces-on-the-Move technology is particularly suited to closing these vulnerabilities and enhancing airport security, and is being explored by many of the world’s major hubs.

Face recognition surveillance can be used to secure all entry points to the airport, including from road, parking, or train levels.

It will add to existing surveillance systems, effectively pushing out the security perimeter of the airport without affecting person flow or creating queues. Airside security and border control checkpoints can also be enhanced with face recognition.

Performance and operational readiness

The use of suitable cameras, lenses, and placement of cameras at natural chokepoints to create optimal 'capture zones' are all critical factors in the design and success of the system.

Multiple capture zones and scaling of the system for given person traffic will improve performance and meet operational needs.

Integration with existing surveillance systems and protocols is a key factor to creating a unified security approach for the airport.

A potential face recognition alert can be reviewed much in the same way as any security alert in a central command and control centre, and when confirmed will be forwarded to a security officer on the floor for interdiction.


Equally important are privacy policies which dictate the use of watchlists and the capture of live images through data security and retention protocols.

These policies must be developed together with all stakeholders including the airport authority, policing agency, and owners of the watchlist.

Alert subscription and user authentication in a system containing multiple watchlists is essential to ensure access only to authorised persons.

What’s next?

A recent deployment of Faces-on-the-Move technology at a major Canadian airport has proven technical and operational readiness together with technology-specific privacy policies.

It pushes out the security perimeter, enhances existing protocols, does not affect traveller flow, and requires no additional staffing.

In today’s global security environment, there is almost no alternative to adopting face recognition as part of an airport’s overall security strategy.

• Ilan Arnon is chief technology officer at Face4 Systems Inc and will be one of the speakers at the upcoming ICAO Global Aviation Security Symposium (AVSEC2017) in Montréal on September 12-14.

More information about the event can be found at https://www.icao.int/meetings/avsec/Pages/default.aspx

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