Tampa International Airport is testing biometric face scanners

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa International Airport plans to spend $1 million on biometric face scanners by 2020.

The new technology will be used for passengers boarding departing international flights.

“If it works, I’m for it. I have no problem with it. They can recognize my face all they want,” passenger Jose Pagan said.

ABC Action News discovered the new technology as passengers boarded a flight to Panama City on Friday.

When a passenger walks up to the biometric scanner, the device detects their face and compares it to a database. The new technology replaces the need for a passenger to show their passport at the gate.

If the face matches, the machine will clear the passenger.

“On the exit side, we are installing three different technologies on three different doors on our international airside, airside F,” said John Tiliacos, executive vice president of airport operations and customer service.

During this 30-day pilot program, the airport will test three different vendors to see which technology is the best fit.

“At the end of this pilot program, we will determine which of the three service providers is best for us,” Tiliacos said.

By 2020, Tampa International Airport will have face scanning technology at all 10 gates where passengers depart the country on international flights.

“The camera takes a photo of the passenger and that photo is checked against a photo library that exists in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Traveler Verification System,” Tiliacos said.

“This will speed up the boarding process and could eventually be used for inbound flights as well. We can’t wait to see the results,” said Danny Glennon, director of customer services.

To date, fewer than 10 US airports have deployed screening.

“We spoke with Orlando. We had the opportunity to observe the system there. Miami, the same thing there and seems to work quite well,” Tiliacos said.

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