New York’s busiest airport – one of the world’s largest – is streamlining operations and easing passengers’ minds with the Veovo Guest Predictability solution.
Few airports compare to New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. It’s the USA’s busiest international entry and exit point, and during 2017, nearly 60 million people passed through its six passenger terminals. Moreover, traveller expectations are growing just as rapidly – tolerance for bottlenecks and slow-moving lines is getting ever lower, and the demand for real-time solutions ever higher.
Travellers want a stress-free transit through the airport, while regulators expect security wait time service level agreements to be stringently adhered to, and airlines rely on airport processing to ensure on-time departure of their flights.
In 2015, Terminal 4 was much like all the other terminals – crowded with passengers, busy 24/7, with the tension and stress of national and international travel hovering in the air like a fog. Keen to improve the situation, airport operations began to explore opportunities for a way to ease the stress on passengers, speed up their lines, reduce queue build-up and help passengers get a realistic view on how long they could expect to wait at various processes.
The answer was found in the Veovo Guest Predictability solution, previously known as BlipTrack. The solution comprises a combination of sensors and data processing software, which together offer insightful, real-time passenger queue and flow information.
In the past, the airport relied on active monitoring, using cameras and stopwatches, to manually track how long it took fliers to get through lines. However, it was difficult to ensure consistency in the data, and it was impossible to provide this data around the clock.
Placed at the TSA Security and Customs Border Protection checkpoints, as well as the indoor taxi queue, the solution has, since implementation, provided the airport with both live and empirical data to provide an understanding of how people move through the terminal.
With this data, the airport can proactively manage passenger flow, allowing them to respond promptly and efficiently to irregular operations and disruptions – for example, by opening additional lines. Effectively, this means that the airport can prevent problems from developing, rather than reacting to them once they have already formed. Moreover, because the aggregated data gives the airport a clear picture of trends and patterns and how they are performing, it enables them to detect wait time and movement anomalies over time, helping them identify peak periods more efficiently and accurately. This allows management to plan ahead and match staff resources with demand at the right times.
Besides ensuring smoother and more efficient operations, the solution also helps solve the problem of frustrated passengers, thanks to continuously updated wait-time information that is displayed on large screens at the various passenger process entry points.
“People like to know how long they are going to wait. Nobody likes to wait in lines, and signage helps to manage expectations. Not only does the system tell passengers how long they’re going to be standing around, but it also alerts airport employees about bottlenecks developing, which in turn allows them to react to the situation more quickly,” said Daryl Jameson, vice president at the company JFKIAT, which runs Terminal 4 at JFK.
Airport advocate, Joe Sitt of the Global Gateway Alliance, has praised the new technology: “For too long, passengers were left in long lines at the airport, with no information. The wait-time screens at JFK Terminal 4, however, are the kind of modern technology that infinitely improves the passenger experience and helps advance the airport into the 21st century.”
JFK International is not the only US airport that’s keeping passenger journeys moving smoothly. North America’s fastest-growing airport, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, has managed to reduce their wait times by a massive 33%, while the solution has helped San Diego International Airport identify taxi rank bottlenecks to provide taxis when needed.