World Economic Forum consortium launches Known Traveller Digital Identity paperless travel pilot between Canada and the Netherlands

The World Economic Forum and the governments of the Netherlands and Canada have launched the first pilot project for paperless travel between the two countries. The Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) uses a traveller-managed digital identity for international paperless travel.

The pilot initiative is a collaboration between government and industry – border authorities, airports, technology providers and airlines – to create an interoperable system for secure and seamless travel. It will be integrated with partner systems and tested internally throughout 2019, with the first end-to-end paperless journey expected to take place in early 2020.

“By 2030, international air travel is expected to rise to 1.8 billion passengers, up 50% from 2016. With current systems, airports cannot keep up,” says Christoph Wolff, head of mobility at the World Economic Forum, “This project offers a solution. By using interoperable digital identities, passengers benefit from a holistic system for secure and seamless travel. It will shape the future of aviation and security.”

KTDI will provide a frictionless travel experience for passengers while allowing them to have greater control over their personal data, seen as one of the key barriers to technological development in regular global traveller surveys.

In this instance, the identity data that is usually stored on a chip on a passenger’s passport is instead securely stored and encrypted on their mobile device. Passengers can manage their identity data and consent to share it with border authorities, airlines and other pilot partners in advance. Using biometrics, the data is checked at every leg of the journey until arrival at the destination, without the need for a physical passport.

Passengers establish a ‘known traveller status’ over time through the accumulation of ‘attestations’ or claims that are proven and declared by trusted partners, such as border agencies and recognised airlines. The result is a reusable digital identity that facilitates more streamlined and tailored interactions with governments, airlines and other partners.

The governments of Canada and the Netherlands are joined by their national carriers Air Canada, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and the Montreal Trudeau International, Toronto Pearson International and Amsterdam Schiphol airports. This pilot group is also supported by technology and advisory partner Accenture, with Vision Box and Idemia as technology component service providers.

It is envisioned that the pilot project could include up to 10,000 passenger end-to-end trips being facilitated by the KTDI with the two international airlines between the three airports. Passenger participation in the pilot will be limited to invitation only, and will be voluntary. The invites will be limited to employees of the participating consortium partners or specially selected passengers chosen by the two airline partners.

The World Economic Forum says the goal of the KTDI pilot is “to test a means for travellers to maintain and share trusted, verifiable, globally interoperable digital identity attributes issued by one or more public- or private-sector entities”. The partners will “share lessons learned regarding the policies, processes and technologies used and how these can be adapted and improved to further scale the KTDI concept,” it says.

“To become scalable the KTDI concept requires international standardisation and accepted interoperability across geographies, policy environments and industries. As such, the concept remains a vendor- and technology-agnostic approach,” it adds.