Technological innovation can bolster trust and security at international borders. Here’s how

Technology Innovation United Nations

Blockchain for the United Nations – humanitarian and other applications @TechNovation Talks. (United Nations, 2017)

This article is brought to you based on the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: John Moavenzadeh, Head of Mobility Industries and System Initiative, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum LLC

I landed at the Buenos Aires airport recently after 14 hours of travel. After making my way through the airport, the immigration officer from the Government of Argentina asked me two questions: Why are you here? Which hotel are you staying at?

Imagine for a moment if she had asked me a third question: Are you a terrorist? Immigration officials generally don’t pose this question because, of course, a terrorist would answer “no” and move on.

This absurdly simple scenario highlights the single most significant factor underpinning the future of the global travel system: trust.

Why should the immigration officer trust that I answered her two straightforward questions truthfully, much less this hypothetical third question? Travelers could easily lie about their hotel and the purpose of their visit.

The global travel system needs an overhaul

I was in Buenos Aires to speak on a panel about creating seamless and secure travel at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, following an invitation from Gloria Guevera, WTTC’s visionary leader and former Mexican Minister of Tourism. I shared the panel with Dr Fang Liu, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), one of our Stewards for the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Mobility System Initiative. ICAO is a key stakeholder on trust and identity in the global travel system as the provider of a central repository for data on e-passports.

At the World Economic Forum, we have been working on the concept of travel facilitation – making it easier for international travellers to pass through airports (as well as land borders) for over three years since the CEOs of Hilton and Marriott posed the question: Is it time for a global passport?

Chris and Arne were ahead of their time, already seeking a solution to the biggest challenge that will impact travel in the future. In 2012 we passed a global milestone with 1 billion international arrivals (both air and land). In 2017, there were 1.32 billion international arrivals, an increase of 7% from 2016 – the highest rate of growth in seven years. We expect to surpass 2 billion international arrivals by 2030, if not sooner. Arne and Chris rightly determined, as did many of their colleagues, that there is no way that today’s travel system will be able to accommodate tomorrow’s travel demand.

Image: World Economic Forum and Accenture

Since Chris and Arne posed this discussion three years ago, at least two significant vectors of change have reshaped and accelerated the transformation of the sector.

The first is the proliferation of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies that can profoundly reshape the future travel system, specifically biometrics (facial, iris, fingerprint, and others), distributed ledger (blockchain or non-blockchain ledgers like Corda or X-Road),and an array of cryptography developments that promise to transform the most technological savvy among us into glazed donuts (zero-knowledge proof algorithms).

The second is the reshaping of the global security landscape. Sadly, it appears that our world of 2018 is more volatile and dangerous than our world of 2014. Horrible incidents, such as the Brussels airport attack in 2016 or the slaughter of innocents from a Las Vegas hotel room last fall, remind us that the global travel system is vulnerable. Which brings us back to the immigration official I spoke to.

Every time we cross an international border, as I did that morning, we are faced with an immigration or border patrol official who seeks to answer two simple questions: Are you who you say you are? Is it safe for me to allow you to enter my country?

By examining your passport – both physically and digitally – the immigration officer is addressing the first question. But can we even trust a passport? Every day, Interpol positively identifies over 300 lost or stolen passports circulating within the international travel system.

There are a lot of fake passports out there, famously brought to public attention when Malaysian officials confirmed that two Iranians, likely traveling to seek asylum, boarded the fated Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight with stolen passports. We can and will do better with biometrics. In fact, the US government is aggressively leading on applying biometric technology to the global travel system.

By asking questions like “Where do you work?,” “Why are you here?” and “Where are you staying?,” the immigration officer is making an assessment of the second question – is it safe for me to allow you to enter my country? But, is there a way for immigration officials to spend far less time on the many better-known or safe travelers, so that they can concentrate their efforts on the few unknown or higher-risk travelers?

The Known Traveler Digital Identity Concept

At the Forum, we assembled a Working Group of executives from Interpol, ICAO, IATA, WTTC, ACI and an array of our business partners from the technology, aviation, travel and tourism sectors to ask how we might redesign the global travel system to meet future challenges. In collaboration with Accenture, the Working Group developed the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) concept, documented in the Insight Report we released during our Annual Meeting in Davos in January.

                             Image: World Economic Forum and Accenture

The report provides a detailed description of the KTDI concept three are particularly relevant as we reflect on the concept of trust:

1) User-centricity. We started the discussion within our Working Group in June 2017 asking how we would totally redesign the global travel system for travellers. While governments require travellers to share some data (such as name, date of birth, passport number, etc.), we asked: What if passengers could voluntarily share more data?

2) Technology-enabled. Advances in biometrics, particularly facial biometrics, are moving at a torrid pace. But even more intriguing for the travel system is the distributed ledger, which offers a means for a trusted third-party to verify which hotel I am staying at or where I work. A distributed ledger offers a means to instill trust in the travel system.

3) Modular and vendor-agnostic. To achieve the KTDI vision, multiple systems (such as hotels, airlines, immigration authorities) need to exchange data, which requires interoperability as a design principle. A number of technology companies are building fantastic solutions for the travel system, from big players like Accenture to industry-focused players like SITA to transformation start-ups like VisionBox. They should all be able to participate in the implementation of a globally-scalable KTDI.

Personally, I would be happy to share my entire travel history, my employment history, my education history, my residence history, and so forth with immigration and border authorities if I thought it would get me through the airport and onto my destination faster. IATA has data to show that I am not alone in my sentiments.

Even better, if my data can be authenticated (for example, the World Economic Forum HR department verifies that I am an employee, Carnegie Mellon University verifies that I am an alumnus, etc.) through distributed ledger technology, then we have taken a leap forward in creating a more trustworthy system. And a trustworthy system begets trust in the system.

Trust is variable. It’s generally hard to gain and easy to lose.

Looking Ahead: A Pilot in Canada and the Netherlands

Once upon a time, a few visionaries in the airline industry asked, “Can we imagine a future without paper tickets?” I’m sure there were experts with many arguments as to why it would not be possible, but each day the industry functions on technology that was unimaginable a generation ago. Passengers book flights online, check-in via the carrier’s mobile app on the way to airport and board the plane after scanning an e-ticket at the boarding gate.

Today, visionary leaders in the travel industry are similarly rethinking the travel system of tomorrow with the KTDI concept. It is a bold and ambitious concept. And it’s just what the world needs, because travel is truly a force for good – it encourages cultural exchange, international awareness and drives social and economic development.

Our next step is to prove out the concept. We are very pleased to be collaborating with the Government of Canada, specifically with the support of Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and the government of the Netherlands.

This next year promises to be even more exciting as our stakeholders seek to test and design a more trustworthy global travel system for tomorrow.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Seven trends shaping the future of the mining and metals industry

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

These forms of exercise are best for your mental health

Children paying a high price for inequality

The developing countries keep the world going

Theresa May in search of a magic plan to invoke Article 50 and start Brexit negotiations now

DPRK reports ‘little progress’ since historic June 2018 summit with US

On Youth Education: “Just a normal day in the life of a medical student”

‘Tenacious’ Kyrgyz lawyer and statelessness champion, wins prestigious UNHCR prize

How the digital finance revolution can drive sustainable development

“None of our member states has the dimension to compete with China and the US, not even Germany!”, Head of EUREKA Pedro Nunes on another Sting Exclusive

These 3 countries are global offshore wind powerhouses

G20 LIVE: G20 leaders reaffirm OECD’s role in ensuring strong, sustainable and inclusive growth

Human rights in Brussels and in Beijing: a more balanced approach needed

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

Four ways Europe can become a global innovation leader

Privatization of the health sector and the right to receive treatment

Italy’s populist government appears determined to drive EU economy and markets into recession

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

4 crazy things that are happening in the Arctic right now

From Prince to Picasso, the arts can be just the tonic, new UN health agency study shows

The Indian case: health policies need to keep pace with public health literacy

How India’s new consumers can contribute to a $6 trillion opportunity

These are the world’s best cities to be a cyclist

The Oslo model: how to prepare your city for the electric-vehicle surge

The US bugged Europe: Is this news?

Why securing the Internet of Things is crucial to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Attack on UN compound in Somalia may be ‘violation of international humanitarian law’

De-escalation of fighting in Hodeida is key to ‘long-overdue’ restart of Yemen peace talks: UN envoy

Shanghai has tough new recycling rules – and it will stop collecting trash from communities that don’t comply

A Sting Exclusive: “China is Making Good Stories not Bad Ones”, Ambassador Yang highlights from Brussels

New York’s rooftop farms provide fresh local produce – and help stop a sewage problem

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Why cooperative and competitive federalism is the secret to India’s success

These are the UK’s biggest trading partners

Vote at 16 in Malta: next stop Europe

19th EU-China Summit: A historical advance in the Chino-European rapprochement

World ‘not yet on track’ to ensure children a better future: UN rights chief

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties caused by IEDs has reached ‘extreme levels’, UN warns

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate emergency, call to support breastfeeding, rising political heat and new investigation board for Syria

New state aid rules: Commission increases national support to farmers up to €25,000

Yemen war: The battle rages on, children suffer most

3 reasons why AI won’t replace human translators… yet

Artificial Intelligence raises ethical, policy challenges – UN expert

Hundreds of thousands of lives still lost each year to small arms, UN conference hears

Former Chilean President Bachelet put forward by UN chief as next High Commissioner for Human Rights

‘Forgotten crisis’ in Cameroon, with attacks on the rise, millions in need of ‘lifesaving assistance’

‘Virginity testing’: a human rights violation, with no scientific basis – UN

Why the internet is yesterday’s news in China’s digital leap forward

The importance of the strategy of health of a country working in accordance with the theory

Failure to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia is a mistake

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

The US starts an intense currency war to protect its global standing

US-North Korea summit ‘an important milestone’ towards denuclearization, says Guterres

Parliament commemorates the victims of the Holocaust

European Youth cries out: Sustainable Development Goals ambitious, but lack focus on youth

Improved access to financial information to curb serious crime

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

Why the West supports the yen’s devaluation and Japanese over-indebtedness

Germany objects to EU Commission’s plan for a Eurozone bank deposits insurance scheme but Berlin could go along

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s