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Biometric boarding gates

The August 2020 print edition of Professional Security magazine featured biometric uses across sectors, including at airports – and maybe connected with related fields, such as hotels for travellers after arrival – as a way of bringing touch-free and more free-flowing passenger travel, not only more convenient but avoiding some coronavirus risks. Heathrow Airport commissioned dormakaba to supply and install self-boarding gates, integrated with the airport’s biometric system.

As at other airports, automation at Heathrow required biometric gates that would bring facial recognition to each point of the departing passenger’s journey. The new kit would use facial recognition at check-in, bag drops, security lanes and boarding gates for passengers walking through the airport, meaning less physical contact and face to face engagement between staff and passengers.

When looking for the initial self-boarding gates, Heathrow contacted dormakaba. The physical security product company supplied its HSB-M03 Self Boarding Gates, pictured; and PaxCheck Self Boarding Solution. dormakaba also provided its project management services, and the airport has taken out a service contract for third and fourth line support.

Andy Carter, Contracting Business Sales and Operations Director at dormakaba UK said: “As part of their passenger journey, Heathrow required a bespoke and technically capable system to allow them to cope with passenger numbers whilst also providing a seamless passenger experience. The final project looks to have over 400 gates installed across the whole airport. Each one has dormakaba software on the gates, incorporating Heathrow’s biometric data, as well as a connection to the management server.”

This integration saw work between dormakaba engineers and project managers with Heathrow, and suppliers for third party products and systems. Terminals 2A, 2B and 5A have been completed, with Terminal’s 3, 4, 5B and 5C scheduled for completion by the end of 2020. Across these completed terminals, passengers present their boarding pass to a reader on the gate, which then scans and checks the pass with the airline’s Departure Control System (DCS) and opens or remains closed depending on the response.

For passengers departing on domestic flights, the gate also uses facial recognition, with its installation being partnered with the airport’s chosen biometric provider Atkins, to verify that the passenger boarding the aircraft entered the airport through the front door; or has been through a UK Border Force check since arriving on an international flight.

The self-boarding solution includes web-based administration, PaxCheck, that allows for management of the gates and sends reports of passengers and when they passed through – allowing for faster boarding, and fewer staff, according to the security product firm. This also means airport and airline management can have live stats on the numbers of passengers passing through the gates in any given period, for compliance with government and travel industry guidelines.

Simon Wilcox is, Heathrow Passenger Automation Programme Lead. He says: “We’re incredibly impressed by the use of dormakaba products in the integration of our terminal upgrades. Engineers and the dedicated project team worked closely with us and other suppliers to ensure a high-quality delivery, to schedule. The gates have been excellent reliability wise, and the positive feedback from passengers has been outstanding. dormakaba’s support team also respond incredibly quickly to any queries that ourselves or the third-party IT providers may have, which made the process of implementing the biometric integration much smoother, and the bespoke self-boarding solution allows us to update airport and airline branding and mode of operation in real-time.”



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