Using mobile sensors to improve airport IQ

Tracking passenger flow with mobile sensors can do more than help airports cut down queues, Blip Systems, Denmark, argues.

It can also offer airports insights on passenger habits which might help improve passenger experience and sales at concessions.

Mobile sensors, which work by passively marking electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets as they go by, can help track passengers throughout the whole from the parking lot to the plane.

The data accrued can answer questions on how long passengers linger at concessions, with enough precision to determine the attractiveness of specific concessions and services.

Data collected by these mobile can by collated in a variety of ways to improve operations and boost retail revenue, Blip argues.

These include:

  • Queue times and occupancy and flow per area, per flight
  • Origin/destination network diagrams
  • Auto-profiling passenger behavior from entrance to gate, minute by minute
  • Multi-stage passenger show-up profiles
  • Forecasting occupancy per shop/restaurant/other area, per flight
  • Bypasser/browser/engaged/buyer ratios
  • Forecasting shopping time per flight
  • Forecasting occupancy and shopping time per flight as a function of check-in/security/gate announcement time/gate allocation.

Blip cites a recent survey by Expedia which finds that 94% of leisure travelers travel with a mobile device, significantly boosting the pool of travelers whose movements can be accurately tracked using this technology.

Because these sensors work independently, detecting mobile devices with bluetooth or wifi enabled, without requiring apps or traveller interaction, Blip says they can offer significantly higher (40%) penetration than iBeacons (1%).

Christian Carstens, marketing manager Blip Systems says:

“Airports can generate a cohesive passenger experience picture, including accurately measuring and predicting wait times, while simultaneously providing data about how passengers move and use the airport.

“Airports can retrieve both live and historical data about specific patterns, such as entrance and exit usage, walking routes and time spent in various areas, such as security, retail, lounges, rest rooms, gates and more.

“The patterns can be averaged over a day, a week, a month, as well as a specific time of day, a specific holiday, etc.

“This enhances an understanding of how disruptions or changes affect standard behavior, and enables the airport to add value to existing facilities and new investments to unlock new business opportunities.”

Cutting security queues can boost passenger satisfaction and profitability. Blip says passengers may spend up to EUR 1,00 per minute at airport concessions after passing security, but this spend may be reduced by 30% on average after a delay of an extra 10 minutes or more spent at security.

While it has already been deployed at 25 international airports—including Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, JFK Airport in New York, Brussels, Copenhagen Airport and Dublin Airport—sensor technology is helping refine crowd-management at public facilities beyond air travel.

BlipTrack systems have also been used for road traffic management in Europe, UK, and Thailand. It has also been used in ports and train stations, ski resorts, amusement parks, and even special entertainment events.

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