"Innovation is key to enhancing global competitiveness, mobility and productivity. Technological advancements provide opportunities to make security for air travel more efficient while improving the traveller experience.”
The World Economic Forum is developing a sytem prototype that combines cutting-edge technologies with sensitive data to enable seamless and secure international travel. Explained in its latest report, The Known Traveller, the forum worked with the digital consultancy Accenture to explore ways of “shaping the future of travel” and balance the expected spike in passenger numbers against the necessity for increased security checks.
According to figures quoted in the report, cross-border travel is expected to grow by 50% over the next 10 years to around 1.8 billion international arrivals in a little over a decade from now, placing an inevitable strain on airport terminals. As a direct result of that pressure, there are very real concerns that the cost of implementing increased security checks will reach unsustainable levels.
Potentially providing the answers, the World Economic Forum and Accenture report suggests that by harnessing what they called Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies: biometrics; blockchain; cryptography; mobile devices, those costs could be minimised, while journeys could also become more efficient and secure. With good news for those worried about the use of sensitive personal data, the report said that all four technologies can be used without the need to hold personal data in one central database.
Writing in the report’s Foreword, John Moavenzadeh, from the World Economic Forum, and Liselotte de Maar, of Accenture, were clear that cross-border travel was fundamental to global prosperity and trade and a solution needs to be found to avoid future problems. “With the number of international arrivals expected to grow by 50% by 2030, we must accommodate the vast flow of travellers despite increasing security threats, limited infrastructure and numerous layers of screening,” they affirmed.
“Currently, a secure and seamless traveller journey is not guaranteed and, if not managed well, the travel experience and the global travel industry might suffer.”
The concept behind this latest report, known as Known Traveller Digital Identity, focuses on the use of traveller-managed digital identities, a process that gives governments the power – by working with other agencies and passengers – to carry out risk assessments and security procedures before travel, improving the seamless flow of travellers through borders. A working prototype of the concept will be showcased at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018, with the intention of implementing a scalable pilot with governments at a later date.
Should the pilot work as it’s intended, it’s hoped that it could go some way to amending the commonly-held opinion that making journeys simpler but also boosting security were mutually exclusive. That’s certainly not a view shared by the head of transport in Canada, Marc Garneau. “Innovation is key to enhancing global competitiveness, mobility and productivity. Technological advancements provide opportunities to make security for air travel more efficient while improving the traveller experience,” said transport minister Garneau.
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