Originally posted on LinkedIn by Kevin McAleenan, Deputy Commissioner (CBP)
Last week, I had the opportunity to present a challenge to some of the world’s most innovative tech experts and the aviation industry about global airport travel and the imperative before us to dramatically transform air travel and the traveler experience.
Standing before a group of one of the most tech-oriented communities in the world, I held up a stamp, a stapler and paper forms. These antiquated tools still serve actual functions in the process of admitting a traveler into the United States.
This needs to change if we are going to meet the demands of travelers, the aviation industry and ultimately the economy. We must transform our Department’s processes in the air travel environment: at Preclearance locations in collaboration with our foreign partners, and domestically with international arrivals, biometric exit, and at the aviation security checkpoint.
At a forum hosted by Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, California, we met with innovators to invite government, the aviation industry, venture capitalists, big technology and startups to come together, dream of, and build a new international airport environment that meets the demands we face in the international travel environment.
In the airport environment, we are facing a convergence moment where in the near future year-over-year growth in travel, limited improvements in physical airport infrastructure and ever-present security threats will force change.
I was encouraged by the discussion and the dialogue among the participants and the eagerness to take on the challenge we face. Working together, a solution that combines biometrics, real-time management of the flows of travelers within the airport, and a seamless mobile experience that can guide passengers through their journey is not only achievable, but necessary if we are to continue to grow the U.S. travel and tourism industry while continuing to ensure security.
We must work together now to shape the best travel experience before a less-desirable outcome is forced upon us.