Uriel Torres
Director of Sales and Corporate Relations
View from the Top

Biometrics: Pushing the Aerotropolis to Smart Cities

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 10:14

Q: How does an Aerotropolis look and how can this be implemented in Mexico?
A: An Aerotropolis considers an airport not only in terms of its installations but of the area of influence around it. For example, if NAIM continues to be developed on Texcoco, all the surrounding municipalities would have to be developed, which is why projects such as Ciudad Aeropuerto are being developed. The airport must work with different stakeholders and authorities, such as CAN, SEDUVI and SEMOVI to achieve proper interconnection between the airport and the city. The definition of a Smart City is to effectively link multiple entities through technology. While the air transport industry is our main focus, we add value in achieving this interconnectivity by contributing our information and knowledge to be used by the city’s ecosystem.
We also focus on carrying out all our operations and developing all our solutions with sustainability at their core, seeking to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency and asset optimization. For example, we provide airport lighting and air conditioning systems for boarding areas that save energy when not in use. We also have a strong CSR program with scholarships for technology development. Going back to NAIM, we are studying how we can help expand the area of influence around Texcoco through collaboration with the different municipalities and educational institutions.
Q: As an IT company how can you help Mexican cities become smart by having smart airports?
A: Air transport detonates the growth of cities and contributes to their GDP. Technology is a facilitator for the growth and efficiency of an airport, which in turn impacts the development of cities. For example, the Toluca Airport is underused. Being IT-enabled could be a game changer by contributing to the reduction of traffic at the current Mexico City International Airport. Technology can also make the whole process of flying safer and more reliable. We are investing in R&D programs to explore the role that AI, blockchain and biometrics can increasingly have on improving airport operations.
At airports, SITA is focused on three main processes: passengers, baggage management and air operations. We have more than 15 clients in Mexico and help them address their main challenges through our technology, such as strengthening cybersecurity. We have divided our solutions into business segments for airlines, airports and government to offer a tailor-made portfolio for each segment as they have different processes and require specialized technologies. We are also linked with the industry’s main institutions, such as the ACI, ICAO and IATA.
Q: Why should all airports invest in biometrics and why should SITA be the chosen partner to accompany them?
A: Biometrics use facial recognition to complete the different checkpoints within an airport, from the check-in and baggage drop, to the security clearance and the boarding process. As it is a very safe and reliable facilitator, many airports are starting to implement it. For example, we have collaborated on the Orlando and Boston airports in the implementation of biometric technology.
To deploy this technology, a facial database is needed to create the biometric token for each user. Check-in kiosks are an easy spot to allow people to get their token. Also, trusted traveler programs could be implemented to start using this system, such as the Global Entry program in the US. But the way in which this implementation is carried out depends on each country and its migration policies.
We are working with Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico and Cross Border Xpress to develop the first biometrics pilot program in the country at Tijuana Airport, given the transborder air bridge between the US and Mexico in the area. This air bridge is unique, which makes this project especially relevant and challenging as it also involves the US authorities. SITA took part in the whole technology development of the project and biometrics are the next step in keeping up with the increasing passenger traffic there.


Société Internationale de télécommunication aéronautique (SITA) is a global information technology company offering IT and telecommunications services to the air transport industry.