Shanghai is breezing travelers through with facial recognition technology

Hongqiao International Airport

Going to China? Here’s what you need to know about your privacy. Source: Shutterstock.

SHANGHAI’S Hongqiao International Airport has turned on facial recognition technology to allow travelers to check-in automatically, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China.

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport now has self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology.

Similar efforts are underway at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” AP quoted Spring Airlines ground services department general manager Zhang Zheng as saying.

Spring Airlines, a Shanghai-based low-cost carrier, is the first airline to adopt the system at the Hongqiao International Airport. Currently, only Chinese identity cardholders can use the technology.

According to Spring Airlines, that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Spring Airlines

Source: Shutterstock.

In China, facial recognition is quickly seeping into daily life.

For example, on April 7, the Chinese police arrested a 31-year-old fugitive in southeast China after facial recognition technology helped identify him in a crowd of about 60,000 people at Cantopop star Jacky Cheung’s concert.

A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, the capital and most populous city of Zhejiang province, has also allowed customers to “pay with their face” while a school in eastern China is using facial recognition technology to see how students react to the classes they take.

This has raised fears and privacy concerns as China pushes to become a global leader in the field.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Maya Wang said.

“We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.”

Meanwhile, some of the world’s busiest airports are teching up to meet operational and capacity challenges.

The United Arab Emirates’ Dubai International Airport, which received 43.74 million passengers in the first half of the year, has eliminated the need for passports for passengers passing through.

South Korea’s main gateway, Incheon International Airport, is looking to do away with passport identification by adopting an identification system using iris scanning technology.

Singapore’s Changi International Airport is using facial recognition at its new Terminal 4 (T4) to ensure travelers enjoy start-to-end automation, from do-it-yourself checking in to baggage tagging, and aircraft boarding.