TSA Tests “Self-Service” Checkpoint Technology at DCA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is piloting a new touch-less “self-service” technology at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The new tech matches a traveler’s live photo with the photo on their ID. It automatically authenticates a traveler’s ID, matches the live photo with the image on their ID, and confirms their flight information. This is all done in near real time.
“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 touchless, 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 DCA comes after a previous 30-day testing of the credential authentication technology with a camera at McCarran International Airport last year.
How it Works
Travelers at DCA can voluntarily participate in the pilot. They will approach the device and insert their own ID into the scanner for authentication, rather than physically handing it to a TSA officer, thus promoting social distancing and reducing physical contact.
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, without needing to come into contact with the passenger.
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
The TSA says that photographs of travelers taken as part of the program are not saved. The device has no technical 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.