Hawaii airports implement passenger screening technology

Hawaii’s Department of Transportation (HDOT) is implementing facial recognition and temperature screening at its publicly owned airports. Both systems will be supplied by NEC Corporation of America and its partner company, Infrared Cameras Inc.

“Taking these steps to implement the technology at our airports shows our commitment to providing preventative measures against Covid-19 for the community,” said Hawaii’s Governor David Ige. “We recognize that temperature screening won’t catch every infected passenger, but it is an available tool that can be implemented and combined with the additional measures the state is providing to help prevent the spread of this virus, while helping rebuild the economy.”

The thermal temperature screening equipment will be installed immediately at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Kahului Airport (OGG), Lihue Airport (LIH), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO).

Phase 1 of the implementation will have the temperature scanners installed this month at the gates currently being used for arriving transpacific flights. This will be followed by Phase 2 which will have the temperature scanners installed at the remaining gates in the coming weeks. HDOT expects to have Phase 3, the installation of facial recognition equipment, completed by December 31, 2020.

“Team NEC’s approach is predicated on enhancing existing processes and services rather than introducing a bottleneck or negative impact to processing speed,” said Raffie Beroukhim, chief experience officer for NEC Corporation of America.

While the Hawaii airports’ system will leverage facial recognition technology, the authority was at pains to note that extensive steps will be taken to ensure passenger privacy. For example, the system will retain only temporarily a picture of a person with an elevated temperature of 100.4°F and above to help airport representatives identify them and conduct an additional assessment to determine if health precautions are necessary. The picture will be erased within 30 minutes and will not be shared with any outside agencies. Anyone with a temperature below 100.4°F will not have their image retained at all.

Furthermore, the system will not automatically have a person’s personal information, such as their name, address or driver’s license number. It will not contain information about criminal history or outstanding warrants.