Airport IoT solutions are leading the way for efficient operations, visualized safety, and hyper-personalized customer experiences. They aren’t creating the most differentiated airports, but the most revolutionary ones.
Traditional airports, which often drew flak for frustrating delays and annoying security checks, have been massively transformed to become giant hubs of urban facilities that include everything from hospitality, private retail, to live-in concerts. The influx of new-age customer technologies is further automating various aspects of passenger journeys and personalizing experiences, much to the delight of passengers.
One such technology that’s poised to open up a world of proactive experiences is the Internet of Things (IoT), a breakthrough force gearing up to fundamentally change airport operations through smart sensors, connected devices, and analytics.
This blog discusses the rise of IoT solutions and the gear-changing of typical airport experiences, which are now becoming swift, engaging, ultra-personalized, and end-to-end compelling.
IoT-Driven Airports: The Possibilities Unravel
At the fag-end of last year, market intelligence advisory services provider, IDC, had released the list of top 10 Worldwide IT Industry 2019 predictions, underlining why it’s crucial for enterprises to operate as digital species. One of its insights suggested that there will be about 30 billion connected endpoints by 2020, thus validating that IoT will dominate every industry in the near future, including aviation.
Today over 96 percent of passengers carry smartphones while visiting airports. Increased smartphone usage together with IoT innovation presents a strategic opportunity wherein airports can drill into user behaviors and use insights to better engage customers.
Well, don’t raise the brows yet. The IoT adoption across airports, however in bits and pieces, is mitigating the age-old hassles, such as frustrating delays, waiting times in the queues, and annoying security checks.
Airports that have been pumping investments in IoT are able to improve traffic regulations and help passengers with indoor navigation using Wi-Fi beacon-lined maps. They are also using electronic tags and sensors to track and trace baggage, thereby reducing the number of lost bags. Facial recognition technology is streamlining security checks and slashing queues. These advancements are driving significant cost and efficiency benefits while transforming customer experience holistically.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless and gradually unfolding.
Areas where IoT Airport solutions can Work and Activate Hyper-Agile Architectures
If there’s one thing that’s damaging the aviation landscape, it’s the airport experiences that are passé. Below, we have discussed a few areas (use cases) where IoT can provide intelligence to airports and herald a new age of hyper-efficient aviation.
a. Passenger Tracking
IoT is a powerful force in airports that can sort out the complexities of passenger management. Use of biometric systems, laced with in-built tracking mechanism, streamline passenger tracking and help airports monitor the real-time passenger footfall. Moreover, IoT can be used to develop systems that can spot passengers through their gait.
b. Baggage Tracking
The problem of lost baggage has long done a disservice to the airports’ reputation in general. However, with IoT beacon technology and its ongoing connectivity, finding lost baggage is incredibly easy. These beacons integrate with the airport’s cellular network and monitor baggage location in real-time across all touchpoints. This allows passengers to track their belongings, right from check-in to cargo-hold, which is instrumental in reducing the lost baggage counts
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has smartened up its baggage handling system through RFID technology. It is the first airport in the world to do so.
Automaton, combined with IoT, come in handy to revolutionize online check-ins and bag-drop processes. JetBlue, a US-based airliner, has provided ‘auto check-in’ functionality to passengers, using which they have issued a ticket automatically and allotted a seat 24 hours before the day of their flight. Their seats are chosen after carefully analyzing their booking patterns and behaviors.
Flight delays are a nagging problem and result in massive losses. With IoT at the vanguard, airports can effectively monitor weather conditions and avert the instances of flight delays. How? By connecting weather monitoring beacons across runways to keep a tab on weather updates and share insights with the larger systems. This can be helpful in improving flight management and saving costs. Besides this, connected surveillance can further keep passengers updated on delays and stoppages, thereby saving them a lot of time and hassle.
Since most airports stretch across a huge land mass, it’s almost puzzling to find the right entry and exit points, and more so when a passenger is late for a flight that’s about to take off. Digital IoT Beacons can make a big difference when it comes to helping passengers navigate across airports and reach the right boarding zones in the shortest time possible. They can send out real-time texts via Bluetooth-enabled digital beacon-linked maps, thereby updating passengers on every little aspect—from parking, shuttle services, to table availability in restaurants—of their airport journeys.
Finland’s Helsinki Airport, Miami Airport (with a network of 400 beacons), and Birmingham Airport are already using IoT-led beacon technology to offer location-based services in order to shorten queues, dwell times, and get rid of other systemized bottlenecks.
e. Airline Staff
Diversifying IoT implementation across airports can drive real business value for enterprises in terms of speed, performance, and experience. Enabling device-to-device connectivity through a robust IoT cellular network can allow airports to collect data and derive insights into multiple workflows. This can be helpful in identifying patterns that have occurred or are about to occur for real-time and predictive maintenance of airport operations.
But Wait, What About the Challenges?
IoT is turning a new leaf in the history of the aviation industry. The technology is opening a new dimension of door-to-gate experiences and transforming the dynamics of customer service in a big way. While passengers are already accessing and customizing a host of services at their fingertips, the time beckons when IoT success will be fundamentally embedded into aviation sector’s growth, boosting commercial operations and enhancing overall passenger satisfaction. However, it’s essentially important to pay heed to the existing impediments, including legacy systems and security, to embrace IoT in airports inside-out.