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Exciting news! SITA and Indicio now accelerate digital travel ID

Exciting news! SITA and Indicio now accelerate digital travel ID

The trial of a digital travel credential for border crossing in Aruba has achieved success, leading the collaborating parties – SITA, Indicio, and the Aruban government – to progress to the next stage of development.

During the pilot phase in April, participating travelers were able to download an application to securely store their passport information digitally. This facilitated their clearance to enter Aruba even before departing from their origin, eliminating the necessity of presenting a physical passport upon arrival in the country.

Although the trial was relatively limited in scope, spanning a two-week period and involving 24 travelers arriving from the United States and Canada, it was sufficient to confirm the advantages of a digital travel credential for both travelers and the destination.

According to Jeremy Springall, SITA’s Senior Vice President for Border Management, the app-based credential significantly expedited the process for travelers, reducing processing time by approximately 90%. Additionally, it furnished superior quality data for risk assessment to Aruba’s border authorities. The implementation process was also streamlined due to the decentralized, blockchain-based nature of the credential.

Springall explained, “there isn’t a complex centralized system that needs to be developed. We have a straightforward approach to creating this, with a considerable portion of the data being decentralized and held by the passenger, resulting in simpler systems.”

The successful pilot prompted Aruban authorities to begin preparations for full-scale implementation. Edwin Kelly, General Director of the Department of Civil Aviation in Aruba, stated, “for travelers, the process will be seamless – from pre-departure to arrival at their Aruba hotel – essentially eliminating queues.”

The long-term goal is for the digital credential to serve as the traveler’s comprehensive identification throughout their journey, from picking up rental cars and checking into hotels to accessing attractions. In the Aruba pilot, the credential also served as identification for visitors to an attraction, the Butterfly Farm. This showcased the traveler’s control over shared data, emphasizing “selective disclosure based on necessity.”

Overcoming implementation challenges primarily involves fostering cooperation and agreement among governments, airports, and airlines, rather than grappling with the technology itself. Aruba’s small scale and conducive environment facilitated testing, given existing relationships and systems.

Interest in this innovative solution – an open-source, decentralized identity technology – is rapidly gaining traction across diverse destinations. This approach can particularly benefit emerging markets by sidestepping legacy systems.

SITA’s Passenger IT Insights survey from 2022 highlighted that 87% of respondents held positive views about utilizing technology for identity control, an 11% increase since 2016. Furthermore, IATA’s 2022 Global Passenger Survey indicated that over 80% of travelers are willing to share passport data to expedite airport processes.

Springall emphasized the ongoing shift from physical passports to digital travel methods, likening it to the progression from credit cards to mobile wallets. To accelerate this trend, SITA and Indicio established a “co-innovation agreement” to hasten the deployment of digital travel identities.

SITA’s digital travel credential leverages Indicio Proven technology, creating a reliable travel network that streamlines verifications for travelers, governments, and industry suppliers like hotels and airlines. This technology is being integrated with other SITA solutions, such as SmartPath, which employs biometrics to facilitate airport travel.

Interest in this initiative is emerging from various stakeholders, including airports, governments, and airlines. These stakeholders are particularly intrigued because a traveler-managed digital identification negates the need for airlines to store personally identifiable data, thereby reducing the risk of violating regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Springall predicts that the adoption of digital identities will represent a significant breakthrough for the travel industry, streamlining identification processes and opening doors to seamless travel in the digital economy. He expressed pride in SITA and Indicio’s leading role in driving this transformation.

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