TSA is Testing ‘Self-Service’ Checkpoint at DCA

TSA is Testing ‘Self-Service’ Checkpoint at DCA

The Transportation Security Administration is testing out a new touch-less “self-service” technology that instantly matches a passenger with the photo on their ID. The system also confirms their flight information in near real time. The new technology is being first tested at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and could be launched at other airports soon. The TSA hopes that it will provide quicker service, but also promote social distancing.

“In light of COVID-19, advanced health and safety precautions have become a top priority and part of the new normal for TSA,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “As a result, we are exploring rapid testing and deployment of this touch-less, self-service technology. At the conclusion of the pilot, we expect to be able to determine how positioning the new technology will allow passengers to use it themselves thereby providing a safer checkpoint experience, while adding significant security benefits.”

The current pilot at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) follows a previous 30-day test of the credential authentication technology with a camera in September 2019 at McCarran International Airport with select TSA PreCheck passengers. Since then, TSA has refined the technology before starting the current pilot at DCA.

Image courtesy of TSA

How it Works

Travelers at DCA are now able to voluntarily participate in the pilot. Passengers will be able to approach the device and insert their own ID into the scanner for authentication, rather than interacting with a TSA officer. The device verifies the identity of passengers by taking a photo of the traveler and comparing it with the image on their ID. The device will display results for face matching, ID authentication, and flight information to the TSA officer, who will be behind an acrylic shield to further minimize contact between the officer and passengers.

The credential authentication technology units authenticate several thousand types of IDs including:

  • U.S. driver’s licenses and photo IDs issued by state motor vehicle departments
  • U.S. passports/Permanent resident cards or visas
  • U.S. military common access cards/Retired and Uniformed service military ID cards
  • Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards

For those worried about their privacy, the TSA says that photographs of travelers taken as part of the program are not saved, as there is no capacity to do so. The photographs are only used for identity verification to confirm that the photo matches the image on the traveler’s ID and ensure the passenger is the true bearer of an authentic ID.

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