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Summer is back (and so is the heat) and many people are making plans to get away from it. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported a total of 5.8 million passengers passed through their gates in May, up 44% since a year ago. Meanwhile, Ontario International Airport saw a nearly 10% bump in travelers just between April and May of this year.
Travel spending hit a new pandemic high of $101 billion in May, despite the increase in COVID-19 cases. California is seeing an average of around 17,000 new cases each week.
As the omicron subvariants spread, LAX has unveiled new facial recognition technology at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints in the airport in hopes of reducing physical contact between passengers and TSA officers.
Passengers in the TSA line will have to insert their government-issued photo ID into a next-generation credential authentication technology (CAT) unit. The CAT has a camera that will capture a photo of the passenger and compare it to the facial features on their photo ID.
Some airlines are also rolling out their own technology to move passengers along and reduce contact. Spirit Airlines, for one, is piloting a self-serve bag drop and biometric photo-matching kiosks at LAX. Their aim is to get guests to check in their bags without interfacing with an agent.
The idea of having your picture taken and documented may cause some concern at a time when there are issues around how law enforcement agencies are gathering and using data. Rest assured. LAX said any photos taken by their CAT units won’t be stored or used for any purpose beyond identity verification at the airport, and users can opt out of the automated verification process.
The changes come as airport leaders and industry innovators prepare for a three-day SMART Airports & Regions Conference on Monday. The goal? To discuss how aviation can create new economic opportunities in a post-pandemic world and how airports can act as incubators for innovation. Some of the projects that will be up for discussion during the conference will include zero-emission bus-rapid transit, hydrogen-powered passenger rail and an all-electric-vehicle tunnel from a planned state-of-the-art multimodal transit center.
Airports have a long way to go before the problems facing passengers and the industry at large, as anyone stuck at a terminal or picketing an airline can tell you. But as one of the millions planning to fly out of LAX in the next several months, I’m deeply interested in how airports can incorporate new technology to make summer travel a little less miserable, especially the kind that won’t make me late for my gate. — Decerry Donato
The LA Startup Delivering Ketamine to Patients' Doors
Wondermed offers patients and doctors telehealth consultations and, potentially, the ability to deliver the drug right to doorsteps—all while building out a virtual platform and collecting data on how to use the molecule more effectively.
Netflix's Deal With Microsoft Could Help It Generate $3B From Ads
Bloomberg Intelligence tech and media analyst Geetha Ranganathan said Netflix could use ads to potentially monetize 25% of its U.S. and Canadian subscriber base, about 19 million people.
Electric Vehicle Tax Rebates Favor the Wealthy
A new survey, respondents said cash off EVs' sticker price was consistently and “overwhelmingly” rated as the most attractive way for the government to subsidize purchases, especially by less-wealthy drivers. So why does the U.S. insist on a tax rebate?
Gen Z is Turning to TikTok as Go-To Search Engine
Google's internal research indicates that users aged 18 to 24 are forgoing Google Search and Maps and instead sending their inquiries to social media sites, despite growing concern about misinformation on such platforms.
What We’re Reading Elsewhere...
- Electric-vehicle maker Vinfast opens six stores in California.
- L.A.-based greentech AWE Industries will take its water and energy producing technology to Papua New Guinea .
- SpaceX plans to launch a rocket filled with cargo for the International Space Station Thursday night
- California's landfills are piled high with toxic rooftop solar refuse.
- EV charging startup EVgo plans to open 2,000 new stalls across the U.S.
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