Merging Technology Helps Airports Reach the Sky
By Christian Carstens
Air traveller numbers are growing globally, presenting some unique challenges, beyond merely making sure airports are large enough to accommodate them.
Technology offers some exciting solutions, like sensors and cameras, to understand passenger volume and flow. However, selecting the right solution can be challenging, as no single technology can meet all measurement requirements. Also, an airport’s existing environment must be considered when choosing a system that both meets current needs and is easily scalable for future demands.
Technology can be costly to install, and there is a direct correlation between numbers, cost, and lead-time. Therefore, minimising installations while maintaining high accuracy is crucial.
Making the right choice
It is essential to start with the desired outcome, rather than the technology, or the accuracy of the data it promises to deliver. For example, an airport could strive to provide wait time information to passengers, or better match capacity with demand at the right times. Once the desired outcomes have been identified, the next step is to define what data is needed to achieve them. While cost and efficiency considerations cannot be ignored, it is important to clarify the levels of accuracy required to make the right decisions.
In identifying challenges and outcomes, it is also critical to understand both the individual, isolated airport processes, and to get clarity on their interdependence. It can be tempting to focus on a single pinch point, such as check-in, security or border control, without understanding its effect on others, or how it, in turn, is affected.
Experience, however, tells us that knowledge about one process will lead to another, and eventually flow between all the processes. With an airport-wide understanding of flow patterns, it is easier to focus on the right challenges and to more effectively improve all operations. It is therefore essential to choose a solution that supports the analysis of flows, rather than just single-process queue management.
A global trend
There are many emerging passenger flow technologies available, from mobile device tracking to camera-based solutions. According to SITA, 77% of airports will have business intelligence initiatives for queue management by the end of 2019. The question is: which technology is the most effective for the issues that need to be solved?
3D and Wifi/Bluetooth Sensor Example
New 3D sensor solutions provide an unparalleled level of accuracy for people-counting and dwell-time statistics, offering a detailed picture of wait times per processing point. However, 3D sensors are unsuitable for measuring how people move through multiple processes, as they struggle with gaps in coverage and are easily influenced by changing environmental conditions like lighting and physical obstacles.
WiFi/BLE/Bluetooth sensor solutions are ideal for measuring airport-wide flow, queue and dwell time through multiple processing points by detecting passengers’ mobile devices. They are, however, unsuitable for people-counting.
The combination of the requirements to the data and the physical environment will point towards a given solution. Often a combination of technologies is the most accurate and cost-effective solution. Choosing a sensor agnostic solution will allow for use of the best data-acquisition technologies on the market.
The best of all worlds
Taking an approach that supports and utilises data from several sources, maximising the advantages of independent technologies and their strengths, provides a solution that is economically viable and scalable, delivering the desired outcome. The airport will be more adaptable when adjusting to variable ceiling heights, lighting conditions, expansions and so on, which means fewer redundant installations, and reduced costs.
Creating a low-stress, predictable experience for passengers will always play in the airport’s favour. Shorter queues, predicted wait times, and more efficient processing really can make for a seamless, pleasant and memorable airport experience.
“Veovo has allowed us to gain a good understanding of the security check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”
“We are able to keep our passenger fully informed 24/7 about what to expect at security. Our aim is to make the experience as smooth as possible – Veovo helps us do that.”
“With Veovo, we can proactively manage passenger flow, and respond promptly and efficiently to irregular operations and disruptions.”
“Vital to our Master Plan programme is a deep understanding of airport capacity, bottlenecks and constraints, and Veovo is key to this.”
“Veovo has allowed us, together with our airport partners and stakeholders, to better manage operations, as well as improve the passenger experience by communicating expected wait times to passengers at processing points.”
“Veovo has dramatically improved our real-time operational decision-making, post-performance analysis, and capacity planning data analysis capabilities. But, perhaps, more importantly, it has helped us give our passengers a more positive airport experience.”
“Veovo gives us a clear picture of passenger movements, allowing us to provide the best customer service and proactively manage service levels before any issues arise.”