Guam airport to adopt new facial recognition biometric system

Example of cameras and display screens used for facial recognition. (GAO photo)

Guam’s airport is now looking at implementing a new method of screening passengers.

In an interview with K57’s Patti Arroyo, Guam Airport Executive Director John “J.Q.” Quinata spoke about the airport’s new biometric system that will help speed up the processing of arrivals on Guam.

The biometric system deals with facial recognition software that recognizes new travelers coming into the United States and keeps a record of the traveler each time they come in and eventually departing the United States.

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“We are trying to improve the process of arriving in Guam, especially from foreign countries. There is a biometric system, where it takes your facial recognition and it’s able to recognize and identify you right away. If you’ve never been to the United States, then it starts taking your information from thereon, and then after that, it’s able to detect you and account for you, and coming in will be a lot faster for foreign travelers to come into the United States because of the biometric system,” Quinata said.

According to Quinata, the facial recognition software will be able to recognize travelers even with their face masks up by recognizing the travelers’ eyes.

Quinata then went on to say that although it is in the beginning stages, eventually the biometric system will be able to recognize the passenger for departure and eliminate the need for presenting a passport at TSA.

Prior to implementation, the Guam airport needs to have a partnership with airlines such as Jin Air or Japan Airlines so that there is a standardized system.

When asked how the new screening system would be funded, Quinata stated that Guam may need to foot some of the billing even though it is a federal mandate.

“Yes it is a federal mandate, however, that is why we have to have an airport-airline partnership here. Because I think we have to co-share somehow. I’m pretty sure that the federal government will give us a grant to assist us in implementing this program,” Quinata said.

Quinata stated that because each airline would still have to go through their own system and process — and would have to pay their staff in that regard — there needs to be a co-share with the airport and the federal government for the biometric funding.

Quinata assured those who were nervous about their information becoming uploaded that this system was approved by Congress and that it should be ready in the foreseeable future.