Airports are looking to become smarter through the adoption of advanced technologies that can help improve passenger experience and streamline operations. This article looks at how blockchain technology can help speed-up passenger movement through airports and improve overall passenger experience.
Passenger safety, comfort and experience are crucial performance criterias for any airport. Flight check-ins, security checks and dwell times determine the overall experience of passengers. While it is not possible to reduce the security checks and validation due to the ever-looming terror threats, the processes can definitely be made faster.
Today, 34% of airports are looking at solutions using blockchain to be implemented by 2021. The most common use case for blockchain is in optimizing the passenger identification process; 40% of airlines and 36% of airports have stated this as a major benefit. 
With the advent of blockchain, it is now possible to exchange data in a secure, tamper-proof and reliable manner. The decentralized or distributed ledger is the key component of a blockchain and keeps track of the transactions. Cryptographic techniques are used to make the ledger immutable. Smart contracts are business rules that are agreed by parties in a blockchain network and get executed whenever a transaction happens.
Passenger movement in airports
Passenger’s movement through the airport involves multiple points where the identity of the passenger needs to be verified to clear legal procedures or shared to access services. The typical flow for a passenger movement starting from departure terminal till arrival terminal comprises of -
Typically, there are multiple centralized systems that the passenger would need to interact with during their movement through the airport.
A decentralized Identity Management solution can be conceptualized to enable better passenger experience through the airport by setting a network of trust networks leveraging a blockchain infrastructure. These trust networks only consume or share the required amount of passenger identity information and ensure privacy.
The passenger identity information will flow through these networks in the form of Decentralized Identifiers (DID) based Proofs – disclosing only required information to the specific systems or users on a specific network.
Potential networks involved in this solution –
Except for the permissioned trust network for passengers and Government bodies – all other trust networks issue proofs in the form of DID with respect to each stage of the passenger movement within the airport. Completion of each stage of the passenger movement for a travel is logged into the ledger in the form of DID documents and status of the stage.
The passenger would need to share the proofs in the form of DID document to confirm his identity and eligibility to travel from the airport by a specific flight.
High-level view of the solution:
Decentralized Identity Management solution based on blockchain technology offers the following capabilities –
These capabilities will enable building a robust solution for passenger identity.
Blockchain’s features of having a distributed ledger where participants can maintain a log of transactions provide data transparency when exchanging data. Private or permissioned blockchain use an Access Control Layer (ACL) to govern access to the network that helps in building a robust solution for passenger identity.
Blockchain features a distributed ledger where participants maintain a log of transactions which are immutable in nature and also transparent. A private or a permissioned blockchain use an Access Control Layer (ACL) to govern access to the network that helps in building a robust solution for passenger identity management.
The decentralized solution will enable passengers to move through the various stages of an airport seamlessly without compromising on their privacy. The essence of thissolution resides on the network of trust networks that are setup within an airport and between airports. The life of these interim DID will only be for the duration of the travel. These networks also enhance the operational efficiencies at the airport thus reducing wait time for the passengers at the airport. Government regulations on secure exchange of passenger data and standards around blockchain networks will serve as an impetus in increasing the adoption of blockchain at airports.
Danesh Hussain Zaki
DMTS Senior Member, Wipro
Danesh has over 21 years of experience in consulting, architecture, implementation and development. His core expertise is on Enterprise Integration covering API Management, Open Source Middleware, Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) and SOA. He has published white papers and has been a speaker on integration and architecture.
Distinguish Member Technical Staff - Senior Member, Wipro
Chief Architect- Cybersecurity, Blockchain & open source with over 20 years of experience in software development and product architecture.
Vinod currently leads the Blockchain Security initiatives for the Cybersecurity practice at Wipro. He is an expert in Decentralized identity, Blockchain security and building open source solutions. Extensive expertise in open-source and community led tools development, open-source licensing and re-engineering of products. He has published white-papers and is a speaker at international forums. He is passionate about Open Source and Blockchain and has conducted numerous workshops and training programs.
Sumod Rajan George PMP
Sr. Project Manager, CRS, Wipro
Sumod has over 18 years of experience in software development and has managed various projects for business domains, such as retail, finance, healthcare and transportation. Currently part of the Advanced Security Solutions team with CRS, Sumod is part of the team developing solutions around Decentralized Identity Management using Blockchain technology.