Take a closer look at your travel documents

 Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The beginning of the summer holiday season offers a good opportunity to take a closer look at our travel documents. Digitization is also making impressive progress here thanks to integrated chips, machine learning and the use of artificial intelligence.

Although ID cards and passports are still physical documents, they are increasingly being supplemented with digital functions and also benefit from digitized processes in their production and use. This digital transformation extends over the entire life cycle: from initial quality controls in the factories to digital services on smartphones. As a result, the use of documents is becoming safer, faster and more convenient for both citizens and authorities. Veridos shows four examples of how digitization affects our documents – already today and in the future.

Artificial intelligence for quality control in production

ID documents have the first points of contact with modern digital technologies very early in their life cycle. Already in the factory, the manufacturing processes are supported with artificial intelligence (AI) in order to produce precise and error-free copies. Some documents have more than 50 security features, including tiny elements that are imperceptible to the naked eye. However, control devices, for example at border crossings, can recognize them and sound an alarm at the smallest deviations of just one millimeter. Using empirical data from global control devices, AI can develop an understanding of what deviations are acceptable, enabling a constant process of learning and improvement.

Integration of electronic chips in passports and the like

Many ID documents around the world are now equipped with electronic chips on which the identification data of the ID card holder is stored, such as their fingerprints. At this point, digitization begins for the citizen as well, because the chips act as a bridge between the physical and the digital world. They are embedded in the covers of passports and the layers of ID cards, allow identity data to be transmitted without media discontinuity to electronic devices such as smartphones or eGates at airports, thus enabling digitized verification processes.

Use of ID documents via smartphone

The services made possible by the integrated chips include the digital use of ID documents using smartphone apps. They are provided by government agencies to ensure safe and secure data exchange and allow users to transfer personal information from their document to their mobile phone. Once the data is securely stored in the app, it can be used to register for travel documents or apply for visas, and even to provide personal information for digital healthcare applications. These are not yet virtual documents that correspond completely to the physical versions, but they are an important first step in further promoting digitization in this area.

AI-assisted image recognition for faster border crossings

In the near future, other AI-supported applications will be widely used. An illustrious example of this is provided by pilot projects that deal with the automatic reading of passport stamps. These projects use a combination of AI-based image recognition and OCR (optical character recognition) technology to analyze the passport holder’s travel pattern based on the stamps in the passport. The systems identify the stamps, extract important information such as entry and exit dates and automatically derive the travel pattern from this. This relieves border officials of the manual task of checking and evaluating the stamps themselves to determine the countries visited, length of stay and sequence of visits.

“Digitization is increasingly finding its way into the ID world – even if the end user is perhaps not always aware of it,” explains Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO at Veridos. “This digital transformation opens up great possibilities for our physical documents. They will revolutionise the way we travel and use our legal identity. Artificial intelligence in particular has the potential to make processes more convenient and safer around the world – provided that the ethical aspects that this technology entails are properly taken into account.”

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