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Singapore Airport May Use Facial Recognition Systems To Find Late Passengers (fastcompany.com) 86

Singapore's Changi airport, which is widely touted as one of the best airports in the world, is testing use of facial recognition systems to find late or lost passengers in the airport so they don't delay their flight for everyone else onboard. From a report: Changi Airport is looking at how it can use the latest technologies to solve many problems - from cutting taxiing times on the runway to quicker predictions of flight arrivals. It comes as the island state embarks on a 'smart nation' initiative to utilize technology to improve lives, create economic opportunity and build community ties. However the proposed use of cameras mounted on lampposts that are linked to facial recognition software has raised privacy concerns. Steve Lee, Changi Airport Group's chief information officer, told Reuters that the airport's experiments are not from a "big brother" perspective but solve real problems. "We have lots of reports of lost passengers...so one possible use case we can think of is, we need to detect and find people who are on the flight. Of course, with permission from the airlines," said Lee.
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Singapore Airport May Use Facial Recognition Systems To Find Late Passengers

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  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:04AM (#56535623) Homepage

    Yes, there's no way a boss/politician could ever look at that and think, "I bet we could use that for finding terrorists..."

    • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:41AM (#56535807) Homepage Journal
      Anything that CAN be used for Big Brother, WILL be used for Big Brother.....eventually.
    • The story is about Singapore. The plan is probably to make sure anybody that brings a durian onto the bus pays a fine before leaving the country. /s

      You do know terrorists are bad, right? Maybe you had an additional concern that would make more sense to focus on.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Yes, there's no way a boss/politician could ever look at that and think, "I bet we could use that for finding terrorists..."

      To play devils advocate... If you had a photo of what Timmy Terrorist looked like, wouldn't you?

      The fatal flaw of facial recognition is (beyond the fact it's highly unreliable) is that you need to have an accurate picture of them to begin with.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:09AM (#56535661)

    When you enter an airport you have zero expectation of privacy anyway as you already had to pass multiple checks (including photo id) to get in, so why would it matter if there is constant monitoring inside the airport as well?

    I can see a ton of real value especially in recognizing someone who is supposed to be on a plane in fifteen minutes is not near the gate and not headed that way. They could even have staff drive a cart over and help especially slow or confused people, it could actually end up being really friendly and helpful unlike the dystopian scenario that always comes to mind when we imagine complete monitoring.

    Facial recognition is just a tool, while we should be mindful of uses that are creepy or dangerous, we should also not categorically dismiss truly useful real world uses just because there are also mis-uses possible.

    • by adosch ( 1397357 )

      I can see a ton of real value especially in recognizing someone who is supposed to be on a plane in fifteen minutes is not near the gate and not headed that way. They could even have staff drive a cart over and help especially slow or confused people, it could actually end up being really friendly and helpful unlike the dystopian scenario that always comes to mind when we imagine complete monitoring.

      First I'll start out by saying: If you're argument is people weren't at the gate 15 minutes prior to boarding, then don't fly and be more responsible next time. Fuck, I can't tell you how many times I've had my plane held up because someone was late eating at the Chili's Bar and Grill down 100'. Now if you're legitimately late because you're running from one plane to the next, absolutely.

      All I can say is, we can justify anything with that a long list with thousands of other optimistic use cases to death.

      • Exactly. No airport is going to invest in a multi-million dollar system to help find "confused" people. What a joke.
        • Exactly. No airport is going to invest in a multi-million dollar system to help find "confused" people.

          You, sir, have obviously never been to Singapore.

      • First I'll start out by saying: If you're argument is people weren't at the gate 15 minutes prior to boarding, then don't fly and be more responsible next time.

        You've obviously forgotten what it's like to be at an airport for the first time. Or maybe, you came in on a late flight to an airport you've never been in and have fifteen minutes to make your next plane. Or maybe, you are eighteen and flying for the first time and just really confused by the whole absurd process.

        There are many ways, that people c

      • Seems like this could be far easier done with a Google-Maps like App designed specifically for airports. Look up the gate, look up the departure time, figure out what the walking time to the gate is, and give the user a notification and directions when it's time to head over there. If you're at the gate, no notification or directions required.

        There are a ton more roads and business in the world than there are airports. If google maps can help me catch a bus to get where I need to go on time, there's no reas

        • I've always wondered why no airport (that I know of) has any kind of internal navigation app which could easily and cheaply be done with a custom airport app and bluetooth beacons.

          That said I think an external approach would be a nice experience for people that are more technically challenged or just unaware - lots of airports already have ambassadors who are just there to help people fine their way around, this concept of proactively helping travelers is just a nice extension of that to connect ambassadors

          • by Strider- ( 39683 )

            Airports are large enough that standard wifi-based location determination would be more than adequate. That said, some airports could really use the time to improve their internal wayfinding system, basically the signage/gate numbering, and so forth. I used to fly 100,000+ miles a year for work, and for an experienced flyer, most airports are pretty good. The exceptions are hell holes like LAX.

            The biggest improvement in recent years is things like the airline apps that will give you up-to-date gate informat

      • If you're argument

        If I am argument? I think not....

        Wish people could learn to spell things like "there", "their", "they're", "your", "you're", "where", "wear"....

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        If the facial recognition finds you sitting at the bar ordering another beer, they can quickly make the decision to close the gate and start unloading your baggage. If they spot you on your way to the gate in a hurry, they know you'll be there in another 2 minutes, so it won't hurt to keep the gate open. This isn't for the convenience of the passengers who dawdle at restaurants or duty free, it is for the convenience of the airlines and the rest of the passengers who have no trouble getting themselves to
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      As you say, there's no expectation of privacy at airports, nor is facial recognition tech at airports is nothing new - it's actually a staple of detecting anomalous behaviour patterns for individuals for many terminals - the novel application here is more the customer service angle (the customers of airports being the airlines, not their passengers). When you're facing extra gate fees and the possibility of having to offload baggage (more delays, fees, and potential knock-on effects with scheduling of subs
    • ...When you enter an airport you have zero expectation of privacy...

      Of course I have expectation of privacy. For example, I do not want to be strip searched in the middle of the ticketing area. So stop saying I have no expectation of privacy.

    • It seems kinda obvious that a small country with a lot of visitors and a huge airport that serves more connecting traffic than local traffic would not really be a likely source of "dystopian complete monitoring." If they were using it for that, they'd be controlling people who are staying there, not people who are leaving or passing through. That control sure wouldn't last long if the person just left on an airplane.

      Even if a person is worried about it being installed on the streets and chooses not to visit

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        It seems kinda obvious that a small country with a lot of visitors and a huge airport that serves more connecting traffic than local traffic would not really be a likely source of "dystopian complete monitoring." If they were using it for that, they'd be controlling people who are staying there, not people who are leaving or passing through. That control sure wouldn't last long if the person just left on an airplane.

        Even if a person is worried about it being installed on the streets and chooses not to visit

        • The same as everything else that costs money and has no purpose; the goal would be to find a reason to do it, not a reason not to do it. You have to have a reason to want to do it before you worry about reasons not to! If you didn't already know you wanted to do it, and you did the analysis anyways, you'd only be worried about if there is some reason to want to do it that you missed. If you never find a reason to do it, then when you get to the part about how it costs millions of dollars you're not even goi

  • by cowwoc2001 ( 976892 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:16AM (#56535707)

    "Of course, with permission from the airlines."

    Why should airlines be asked for permission? Why not the people actually being scanned?!

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:40AM (#56535805)

      "Of course, with permission from the airlines."

      Why should airlines be asked for permission? Why not the people actually being scanned?!

      You're misunderstanding. They already plan to use facial recognition on the passengers. They need to ask the airlines for permission to access flight manifests and bookings, and most likely tie in with check-in counters and kiosks to actually match names to faces (either by storing the photo when a passport is scanned, or have a camera trained on each check in counter). Depending on the systems used by the airline this could lead to possible exposure to payment or contact information of passengers, and possibly proprietary airline data. That's where it gets tricky. But the passengers? They're SOL in terms of privacy control. I guess you could wear one of those little surgical masks? It's an asian airport so at least you'd fit in and wouldn't look too weird.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @10:42AM (#56535817)
    The late passengers should miss their plane. To go rummaging them up, trying to find them before the plane leaves, will only encourage the bad behavior of not getting to the gate area on time. Also, I have the distinct opinion that this "feature" is really a cover for having active facial recognition in the airport.
    • by Rande ( 255599 )

      The biggest international airports _already_ have active facial recognition.
      What they are proposing here is just extending it so that it can be useful to the ordinary passenger rather than just the police, immigration and intelligence services.

    • The late passengers should miss their plane.

      I agree they should be punished. But the reality is that late passengers will firstly hold up a plane for a short period (notice the headcounts they do when a person is missing?) and secondly will holdup airport resources for rebooking, re-clearing security, removing baggage from planes, etc.

      It isn't easy to just punish the offender without causing a knock-on effect on everyone else.

    • You are an idiot.

      It would be extremely humiliating to be called via loud speaker: Mr. Snyder, last and final call, you are missing flight AH106! Yes, that is you Mr. Snyder, sitting at Mac Doof, spitting out burger parts while goggling that 14 year old!

      There is probably no better way in hell to get travelers behave.

      On the other hand I never caused a delay ... latest time was 5min before docking off. It was an Air France flight, so I apologized while entering, and the flight assistant said: "No Problem, Sir

    • It's been pointed out other places that, if they have checked baggage, grabbing the passenger probably makes the most sense. But I suspect this is for the purpose of enforcing the penalty you describe. You hear a lot of people get to the gate late and tell a sob story like they were unreasonably delayed at security. I know that at Toronto Pearson they scan your boarding pass at each stage of the process. It looks like a security measure but I'm pretty sure its for the exact purpose of refuting passenger
    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

      The late passengers should miss their plane. To go rummaging them up, trying to find them before the plane leaves, will only encourage the bad behavior of not getting to the gate area on time.

      Not all delays are the fault of the passenger. My mother recently missed a connecting flight because she had to go through security between flights. It took about 2 hours causing her to just barely miss the flight. Had the airport been able to locate her they could have expedited her through the line, or held the craft knowing that she was on the way. It was no fault of her own, and the airport had all the information to know where she was most likely held up. They had to reschedule her on a flight 24 hours

    • The late passengers should miss their plane.

      You're cutting off your nose to spite your face. Even if we grant that late passengers deserve to miss their flight, the plane has no awareness of their tardiness, so you're delaying the other passengers needlessly as they wait for a passenger who won't arrive on time anyway. If the airport can confirm that the person isn't present or is too far away, the plane can leave as soon as the passengers who are actually present are ready to go, helping keep everyone on schedule.

      Likewise, if the last person to boar

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      What if they are not doing this to rummage up the passengers, but to improve the economic decision making for the airline whether this passenger is worth waiting for or not?

      If a passenger is already rushing towards the gate, it is going to cost the airline more to offload their luggage than to wait an extra 5 minutes for them - especially if they were on an incoming flight that was delayed so the airline is responsible. If a passenger is still shopping in duty free, or sitting in a bar or restaurant, they

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The late passengers should miss their plane. To go rummaging them up, trying to find them before the plane leaves, will only encourage the bad behavior of not getting to the gate area on time.

      Oh this, a thousand times this.

      When you check in, you're told what time your plane boards and leaves and that boarding gates close 10/15/20 minutes before departure. Remember that when you're all sitting down and departure has been delayed its due to one passenger that is too busy stuffing their face to bother listening to the tannoy that has been saying "Paging Mr Dumfuck, would Mr Dumfuck please make himself known to airport staff, thank you". People do this because they know the plane wont leave witho

  • Late passengers should really be fined, but not until they arrive at their destination.

  • Require a cell number for the ticket and send automated updates and instructions to it.

    "This is Alaska Air. Your flight will be boarding at gate 47 in 15 minutes."

    Easy and uses 1980s level technology.

    • by cciRRus ( 889392 )
      One problem - some travellers may not have cellular phone services that work in the foreign country. Some travellers buy travel SIM cards in the foreign country, and they only know their assigned numbers upon purchase, so they can't register their number with the airline. Also, the travel SIM card may be expired on the day or the day before the flight, so they are uncontactable via the travel SIM card.
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @11:29AM (#56536045)

    It's about control. Think about it, how many flights have you been late as in it's just departed? It happens but that's what trip insurance is for.
    True they'd have to remove any checked bags for missing/late passengers but they'd have already flagged it and have those bags identified especially for
    international flights.

    The downside is that this is a big land grab in terms of privacy. Now, for one or two potential "late/missing" passengers all passengers have to submit their photos or it happens at check-in. What happens to that information after the flight? Does it get deleted?

    No, much like the dumb security bin systems you see at Heathrow, this is a bad airport idea.

  • by MorePower ( 581188 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @12:07PM (#56536269)
    I assume all the scary Orwellian stuff is already in use at airports everywhere. The novel part is that they thought of a way to use the terrorist/criminal/scary person facial recognition tracker infrastructure to possibly help people.
  • by JoeDuncan ( 874519 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2018 @12:09PM (#56536283)

    ... then we don't have anything to worry about!

  • "We found 38 late passengers who are at risk of delaying their flight!"

    "Where are they?"

    "In the Northwest counter line."

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