DigiYatra: How AI will change the way we travel by air in 2022


Once only part of some buzz and a neat sales pitch, artificial intelligence is now a vital part of India’s digital revolution. AI, as it is popularly known, is driving many technologies today, whether it is aimed at consumers or enterprises or governments. With the help of machine learning, AI has proved to be more effective in providing essential services. AI use in India is growing at a rapid pace – with a projected growth of 20 per cent over the next five years, according to a joint study by Microsoft and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), as we looked at some of the major implementations of the technology.

Facial recognition emerged as the top beneficiary of AI implementation. In 2022, facial recognition software spreads everywhere. Not only did private and government offices use facial scanning for their workforce, but the technology was also used for consumer services. One of the results of that implementation is DigiYatra.

What is DigiYatra?

DigiYatra is an AI-based technology that eliminates the need for manual checking at airports. In other words, your face acts as your boarding pass at airports. The computer vision-based technology, available to consumers through dedicated apps, is now available at major airports in India. With the help of facial recognition, DigiYatra technology allows security checks to be done with just your face, linked to all the essential information required for safe air travel. According to the Delhi airport website, DigiYatra allows for faster movement to the boarding gate, hassle-free travel and less waiting time at airports – what could be one of the key benefits of facial scanning technology.

Since the DigiYatra app uses your biometric information from your Aadhaar profile, passing through the boarding gate becomes easier. Sure, the app needs a little more information, like your boarding pass and a selfie to prove your identity, but the whole process takes hardly any time. Once you provide the required information, the Facial Recognition System (FRS) at the airport will use artificial intelligence to scan your face and verify that the facial data is linked to the correct person.

While there have been concerns about privacy related to the DigiYatra technology, it is part of the government’s efforts to make airport security checks as contactless as possible, especially in the post-pandemic era. “…with the increasing number of people, the risk of person-to-person spread of the COVID-19 variant is also a serious concern. To tackle such threats, the Government of India has released Digi Yatra which is based on computer vision technology,” reads the India AI portal.

ulterior motives?

The India AI portal noted that facial data is stored in databases managed by the police in countries such as the US. Once you pass through the face scanning system at the airport, your details are logged in the system when you enter a country. It can “monitor people who are walking into and leaving the airport.” The website cited the example of the US Department of Homeland Security where it used entry logs to determine people who remained in the country after their visas expired to demonstrate the benefits of DigiYatra technology. This comes as an admission that the Indian government also wants to use DigiYatra data to weed out people living outside legal permits. Could this be an ulterior motive for this technology? only time will tell.

However, for now, DigiYatra is one of the best use cases of Artificial Intelligence in India in 2022. The government plans to expand the uses in the future and it is expected that those applications will be compliant with the new Data Protection Bill.

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