Collaborative travel: automatic transit

Stuart Brocklehurst

Group Communications Director, Amadeus IT Group

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My dog and I often cross borders together. That’s not Border Collies, but actual national boundaries with passport checks. When we approach immigration, it’s interesting to see how each of us interacts with technology. We both have our identity confirmed by chips, but whereas I must delve in a pocket for a small booklet and pass it to the officer, his chip is implanted under his skin and is read in a second with a wave of an electronic wand.


Automatic transit is one area highlighted in a recent reportfrom Amadeus. It’s a good example where in looking at the future we must balance the technology available with its social acceptability. The technology exists to replace passports with implanted chips – for humans as well as canines – but concerns about privacy and the intrusiveness of security measures create resistance. It's not enough for something to be technically possible, it also has to be socially feasible.

So what changes may we see? Near Field Communication enabled devices should increasingly replace physical ticket inspections and hotel check-ins. Identity will be established without direct contact - already fingerprint scanning can be carried out from 2m (6 1/2ft) away. Sensors and artificial intelligence can help focus the work of security staff on travellers displaying unusual behaviours – or behaviours consistent with illegal activities. They will also be used to help manage the flow of travellers at busy interchange points – rail stations and airports – allocating resources intelligently to reduce not only time in transit, but the stress involved as well. The stress of travel, however, is another subject, for another blog.

For more information on trends in automatic transit, see Amadeus’ reporton transformative travel.