Singapore airport may use facial recognition systems to find late passengers

A passenger has his photograph taken by an automated luggage drop station at Changi airport’s Terminal 4 in Singapore. Facial recognition technology typically allows users to match the faces of people picked up on cameras with those in databases. (Reuters)
Updated 01 May 2018
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Singapore airport may use facial recognition systems to find late passengers

  • Changi Airport was ranked the world’s best for six years straight in a survey by air travel consultancy Skytrax
  • Changi’s newest terminal, T4, already uses facial recognition technology to offer self-service options
SINGAPORE: Ever been delayed on a flight because of straggling fellow passengers?
That might be an annoyance of the past at Singapore’s Changi airport which is testing facial recognition systems that could, in future, help locate lost travelers or those spending a little too much time in the duty-free shops.
Changi Airport, ranked the world’s best for six years straight in a survey by air travel consultancy Skytrax, 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.
Facial recognition technology typically allows users to match the faces of people picked up on cameras with those in databases.
Lee said they have tested technology that could allow for this, and are working with various businesses, adding that they should have some capability to do this in a year’s time.
While he declined to provide names of the firms involved, France’s Idemia, previously known as OT-Morpho, has previously provided some facial recognition technology to Changi.
Chinese firm Yitu, which recently opened its first international office in Singapore, told Reuters it was in discussions with Changi Airport Group. Yitu says its facial recognition platform is capable of identifying more than 1.8 billion faces in less than 3 seconds.
Changi’s newest terminal, T4, already uses facial recognition technology to offer self-service options at check-in, bag drop, immigration and boarding.
The technology means there are fewer queues and fewer visible airport or security staff.
Luggage is dropped at unmanned booths that take your photo and match it against your passport. You are snapped again at an automated security gate at immigration — a picture that is used to verify your identity at the boarding gate.
Changi is exploring how facial recognition can be implemented in its three older terminals for automated bag drop and immigration.
The airport sees T4 as a test bed for its fifth terminal, which will be up and running in about a decade.
“Today you take passport, you show your face and you show your boarding pass,” said Lee, adding it may, however, be possible to use biometrics instead.
“Then actually in future, you just take your face. You don’t need your passport,” he said.
Other technology trials underway at the airport use sensors to measure when an aircraft pushes back from the gate and when it takes off, data that has improved decision-making and shaved about 90 seconds off of aircraft taxiing time per flight during peak hours, said Lee.
Another program uses artificial intelligence that gathers wind, weather and landing direction to learn to better predict flight arrival times.
With such technology, the airport is now able to estimate a flight’s landing time when it’s two hours away having previously only been able to make an accurate estimate 30 minutes to an hour ahead.
Lee said this helps create efficiencies in everything from gate planning to arrival queues.
He said a smart nation strategy begins at a country’s airport. “You can’t say you are a smart nation when you come to the airport and it’s not so smart.”


Britain unveils “short and sharper” code for companies

Updated 16 July 2018
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Britain unveils “short and sharper” code for companies

  • The new code emphasises the need for boards to refresh themselves, become diverse and plan properly for replacing top jobs
  • Company remuneration committees should also take into account workforce pay when setting director pay

LONDON: Companies in Britain must strive to rein in excessive executive pay and make boards more diverse under a new “short and sharper” corporate code, published on Monday.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has updated its code of corporate standards for publicly listed companies, which must comply with it or explain to shareholders if they do not.
The new code comes as the watchdog, which oversees company governance standards and accountants, faces a review to see if it can uphold high corporate standards to maintain Britain’s attractions as a place to invest after Brexit.
British lawmakers have called for tougher corporate govenance standards following a row between food retailer Tesco and its suppliers and the collapse of retailer BHS and outsourcer Carillion. And shareholders have become much more active in terms of rejecting some executive pay deals.
“To make sure the UK moves with the times, the new code considers economic and social issues and will help to guide the long-term success of UK businesses,” FRC Chairman Win Bischoff said.
“This new code, in its short and sharper form, and with its overarching theme of trust, is paramount in promoting transparency and integrity in business for society as a whole.”
There is a new provision for greater board engagement with the workforce to understand their views — aimed at reinforcing an existing provision in law since 2006 which has had a patchy impact.
This, along with a requiremnent to have “whistleblowing” mechanisms that allow directors and staff to raise concerns for effective investigation, mark the biggest broadening of corporate standards in many years, the FRC said.
“The new code is much stronger on abilities to raise concerns in confidence,” said David Styles, FRC director of corporate governance.
It also emphasises the need for boards to refresh themselves, become diverse and plan properly for replacing top jobs.
It introduces a requirement for companies to explain publicly if a board chair has remain unchanged for more than nine years.
Company remuneration committees should also take into account workforce pay when setting director pay.
“To address public concern over executive remuneration... formulaic calculations of performance-related pay should be rejected,” the watchdog said.