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smartphones in 2010, and Windows smartphones in 2012. In June 2017, Apple announced that iOS 11
iPhones will allow third-party applications to access the devices’ NFC chip. However, this access will only
allow reading of NFC tags, but will not allow the smartphones to emulate a smartcard, as Android and
Windows devices are able to do.
Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth Smart) is a lighter weight, power-conserving version of the classic
Bluetooth wireless communications standard. It was introduced to provide an interconnection framework
between devices that only need to share small bursts of information; as opposed to classic Bluetooth, which
accommodates large amounts of data transfer for such applications as audio and video steaming. BLE
operates at distances up to 100 meters in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, with application data throughput
rates of 305 Kbits/s, and consumes 1/2 of the power needed for classic Bluetooth. Another power-
conserving factor for BLE is that it allows devices to go into a very low-power sleep mode when there is
no need for an interconnection. Under this mode of operation, standalone battery-powered devices that
communicate with BLE could live off a single battery for up to 4 years. When BLE devices are
interconnected (using a pairing and bonding protocol pattern), they establish an encrypted communications
channel similar to SSL/TLS. The longer communications range (i.e., up to 100 meters) that BLE provides
brings special benefits over NFC, such as PACS readers may be hidden or placed on the secure side of a
door, and making it possible to drive up to a gate without having to roll down the car window and reach out
to activate a reader. BLE was introduced into Apple smartphones in 2011 (with iOS 5), Android
smartphones in 2012 (with Android 4.3), and Windows smartphones in 2011 (with Windows 8.1).
How do credentials get on the mobile devices and how are they managed?
Airport operators/managers considering allowing airport personnel to use mobile devices (e.g., smart
phones) as hosts for PACS credentials must understand the infrastructure required to issue/load digital
credentials on mobile devices, and to manage the lifecycle of the credentials after issuance. Understanding
of the components required for mobile credential issuance is best conveyed with a typical example from
the perspective of an individual who is to receive a mobile PACS credential for their smartphone; as follow:
( Note this is a simplified example: in real life it may be restricted to only work on site or within a VPN for
1. Using a Sponsorship web portal, an airport management official “sponsors” an individual (i.e.,
user) who is to receive a mobile PACS credential for their smartphone. At a minimum, the official
provides the user’s name and email address.
2. An invitation email is automatically sent to the user with a link to an Enrollment website that
contains instructions for obtaining the mobile PACS credential.
3. On a PC, the user receives the invitation email and clicks on the link to view the enrollment
website in a browser.
4. The website instructs the user to enter their smartphone telephone number, smartphone model,
and additional information to associate with the new credential to be issued.
5. The user is instructed to download an Enrollment App on their smartphone from the smartphone
manufacturer’s App Store, and start the app up once it is downloaded.
6. The Enrollment site displays a QR Code and instructs the user to capture it using the Enrollment
App and the smartphone’s camera.
7. Scanning the QR Code directs the Enrollment App to a web service that delivers a customized
mobile PACS credential to the smartphone
8. The Enrollment website also instructs the user to download a PACS App that will be used for day-
to-day access to airport protected areas. The PACS App provides the functionality to wirelessly
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