Hobby Facial Recognition

Houston-based William P. Hobby Airport has become the first in Texas to use facial comparison technology for international arrivals and departures. 

The technology launched at the airport on 19 February 2020 and is set to reduce wait times at security checkpoints.

Upon arrival, an international traveller will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s facial matching technology will then compare this photo with archived images that the traveller previously provided to the government such as passport and visa photos. In the cases where travellers cannot be matched, they will be manually processed by a CBP officer. New photos of US citizens will be deleted within 12 hours; photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.

Simplified Arrivals is expected to cut the wait times at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by half, whilst aiming to “enhance the travel experience” for the one million international passengers that go through Hobby Airport annually. 

“Hobby Airport has taken a big leap into the future of travel…This is an important step to realise our goal of becoming a 5-star airport,” said Houston Aviation Director, Mario Diaz.

Houston Airports (HAS) are working with CBP and Southwest Airlines, after the success of the biometric exit process was introduced in November 2018. “CBP is committed to working with our partners to ensure that the travel system is secure and efficient,” said Houston Director of Field Operations, Judson W. Murdock II. “The speed, accuracy and reliability of facial comparison technology enable CBP officers to confirm a traveller’s identity within seconds while further enhancing the customer experience.”

Passengers are provided the opportunity to opt out of the biometric process where they will instead be processed manually, consistent to existing requirements for entry to the US. CBP has used facial comparison technology to intercept more than 250 imposters attempting to gain access to the US since September 2018, by using another person’s travel documents. 

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