The governments of Canada and the Netherlands are working on developing a digital traveller identity proof of concept that could revolutionise how people travel across borders.
The 2018 Amadeus Airline Summit in Prague this week heard from Lauren Uppink, senior manager, safe and secure mobility, at the World Economic Forum.
She told delegates that the current airport infrastructure cannot cope with rising number of travellers – forecast to hit 1.8 billion arrivals by 2030 – while risks are on the increase.
However, she said with travel contributing not only to global economies but also to international relations and global alliances, how to enable people to travel is a key challenge for governments.
Uppink said it was essential to bring airlines, other travel sector players, technology providers and regulators together to partner and co-create a solution that will ensure safety and security.
WEF has worked with global management consultancy giant Accenture, an Amadeus strategic partner, on devising the technology and vision for how a new known traveller digital framework.
“We have identified our biggest challenge was making sure governments have access to the right information with the right people with enough time to interdict any risk they identify
“We recognise the need to bring together partners from the traditional aviation sector and also other actors that interact with the system like global payment companies, technology providers, blockchain expertise and security and regulatory agencies.
“What are the interventions we can co-design that will optimise the whole system, not just pieces of it? We have significant opportunities and challenges.”
Uppink said every time a new risk is identified a new layer of security and infrastructure is added requiring more resources to address it.
The vision of a known travellers digital identity means travellers will be able to upload and save their biometric details to a secure profile, possibly using distributed ledger blockchain technology.
This they will manage and decide what aspects of their data they want particular third parties to access and make use of.
This would allow authorities to identify low-risk travellers and provide them with an expediated process when crossing borders.
Uppink said WEF has seen good collaboration across partners on the framework and it has two governments keen work on a proof of concept of technology, Canada and the Netherlands. Pilots will be run over the next 12 to 18 months, she said.
“Instead of the private sector building independent solutions and hoping to encourage governments to use it they are saying let’s co-design it now.
“We see an opportunity to work together to shape what this looks like in 10 to 15 years time. This takes a commitment to co-create solutions across the public and private sectors.”