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Advanced sensors, AI improve head counts

22 February 2019
Motion analysis technology with lidar sensors is in use to track passenger flow and queuing times at Thai hub Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (pictured). Source: Getty Images

Armed with good data on passenger flow and waiting times, airports can optimise the use of assets and allocate resources efficiently

While initiatives such as the NEXTT programme, developed jointly by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI), are intended to help airlines and airports plan ahead for the seamless journey of the future, airports and airlines are also adopting practical near-term solutions to improve the terminal experience for the travelling public.

In the US, for example, airports, airlines, and technology companies have deployed a variety of methods for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to assess queue times since screening was tightened after the 9/11 terror attacks.

In some cases, airports employ staff to count passenger movements at the TSA checkpoint. In others, data is crowd-sourced from passengers themselves (this is how the TSA gathers information for its MyTSA mobile app); overhead video cameras record entrance and exit times; or passengers can be tracked through various airport bottlenecks via their wifi- or Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Predictive analytics, on the other hand, delve into data on passenger volume and TSA processing speeds at a particular time and location, to formulate a decent guess on wait-time.

Lidar and 3D

Newer tools are now available, in the form of light detection and ranging- (lidar-) based smart motion analytics and 3D sensors with software solutions.

One lidar solution is offered by iinside, a specialist in indoor location technologies that provides behavioural analytics on passenger flow throughout an airport.

The company was founded in 1999 by engineers who had amassed more than 30 years of experience in positioning technologies at Rockwell Collins and NASA, including 10 years on indoor locationsystems.

A motion analysis platform from iinside provides real-time passenger flow and predictive waiting time data via wifi, Bluetooth, and lidar. The company partnered with fellow Californian firm Quanergy Systems, maker of the M8 LiDAR sensor, in July 2018.

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