Five airports to test facial recognition technology

Thailand continues to embrace advanced technology, announcing that five smaller upcountry airports will pilot a facial recognition system to reduce lines, speed immigration procedures, and increase safety. Should the pilot project prove successful, it would be scaled up nationwide.

“Currently, travelers may be required to show their ID cards or passports up to three times in one trip through an airport,” said Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam.

Officials expect the new system will eliminate the need for immigration police officers to inspect passports. As the number of tourists and business travelers has been steadily increasing over the years, immigration lines at Thailand’s major airports have grown longer, causing inconvenience to visitors and inspiring some complaints.

The new system will also benefit Thais, as they must also present national identification cards at airports under the current system.

Under the new system, travelers “can have their faces scanned just once at check-in counters and then board a plane without the need to show their ID cards, passports or boarding passes,” Thaworn said.

The five airports that will participate in the pilot project are Krabi and Surat Thani airports in the South, and Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, and Khon Kaen airports in the Northeast.

Not all aspects of the system have been ironed out. A panel is being formed to study the new identification system with representatives from the Department of Airports, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Royal Thai Police. They plan to work out synchronize their databases, which store information on Thai and foreign travelers.

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