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CBP Launches Facial Recognition Tech at San Jose Airport, More Airports Next

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has installed facial recognition technology at the Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) in Silicon Valley. The technology is already being used to process international travelers entering and leaving the country and is one of the first major West Coast airports to implement the technology. The busy international airport is just a few miles from the headquarters of both Facebook and Google among other major tech companies.

Beginning June 25, the Silicon Valley airport began to capture the profiles of international travelers coming into and out of the country. This fall, the facial recognition tech will be deployed to several other gates in the airport.

“As one of the nation’s main regions of innovation, Silicon Valley is at the forefront of transforming the travel experience through biometrics,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a statement. “CBP is excited to partner with SJC, which serves as another example of what we can achieve by advancing the entry/exit mandate through public-private collaboration, adding benefits for travelers and stakeholders across the air travel ecosystem.”

Several other airports in the country have begun to use facial recognition systems to capture passengers exiting their facilities including JFK in New York, O’Hare in Chicago and Dulles in Washington. However, SJC is among the first to start using it for passengers arriving into an airport.

By 2022 the CBP is aiming to verify more than 97 percent of passengers leaving the country by the use of facial recognition. One CBP official called it a “complete transformation of border security,”

Meanwhile, deploying the facial recognition system is part of Mineta San Jose International Airport’s recent initiatives to spend $8.2 million to expand and renovate the arrival section for foreign nationals arriving the airport.

About three years ago, about 200,000 international passengers came into the San Jose hub, but today the traffic has risen to over 440,000. The time it allows security to clear any passenger has also increased with the risen traffic, but the facial recognition system will drastically cut the amount of time any passenger uses during airport processing.

Officials estimate facial recognition technology will cut down the time it takes to process travellers by 85 percent.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo lauded the new technology as an airport “enhancement” that will improve customer experience in the rapidly growing San Jose airport. “Today’s announcement offers another great example that San José continues to leverage technology to better serve our community,” he said.


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