San Jose Airport Introduces New Facial Recognition Technology

August 7, 2018 Last Updated: August 8, 2018

San Jose International Airport on August 6 announced its partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in implementing new facial recognition technology. The new facial biometrics are expected to speed up the entry process for arriving international flights.

“You really don’t need a paper passport or paper document or verification of your identity, you don’t need to run separate fingerprints to hit on that identity. Facial recognition by itself performs all of those steps in a more efficient and effective way,” explained Brian Humphrey, director of CBP San Francisco and Portland field offices.

The new facial recognition technology will be able to match the person standing in front of an inspection officer with the person’s passport picture.

A camera will automatically verify a passenger’s identity in less than two seconds by taking a picture and matching it to the provided passport picture.

The new face recognition technology is said to have a 99 percent accuracy and has helped reduce wait times at the security checkpoint. In the case of failure to correctly match a person through facial recognition technology, the person will go through a manual identity check by CBP officers.

“We had an average wait time prior to facial recognition around 29 minutes per passenger, now we’re below 22 minutes,” said Humphrey.

The new technology is to help aid CBP officers during the security check process, as inspection officers will continue to be stationed at the security checkpoint.

The new facial recognition technology has raised the question of privacy for some. CBP deputy assistant commissioner John Wagner explained any pictures taken during the identity check will be be discarded after verifying a person’s identity.

Passengers are also allowed to opt out and choose the manual process of identity verification through paper passports and paperwork.

Since June 25, 2018, the new facial recognition technology has been implemented at the gates for international arrival flights. However, the airport just announced that it has made the commitment to use of facial recognition technology after the successful testing over the past 5 weeks.

San Jose International Airport is also planning to implement this technology for all seven departing gates during fall 2018, as part of the biometric exit mandate.

Many airports are choosing to implement facial recognition technology. Los Angeles’ LAX tested and implemented face recognition technology for select gates earlier this year.