Queueing time at airports could get shorter thanks to technology that tracks your every move through the terminal.
Whizzing through the necessary but tiresome checkpoints at the airport without waiting – at check-in, bag drop, passport control, security would be an advantage to all of us when travelling through an airport. Providing us with more time to peruse the latest duty free bargains or search for the giant obligatory Toblerone. Airports are equally keen to speed you through the bottlenecks, for every minute spent queuing is a minute that could be spent in retail therapy, which generates around half of all airport revenue.
Airports do have to be mindful of IATA’s guidelines on Airport Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which define, among many other service parameters, queuing times around the terminal. These factors spur airports on to find new ways to improve passenger flow, though with UK airports having handled over 268 million passengers in 2016 – a 6.7 per cent increase from the previous year – it’s not that easy.
Travellers’ smartphones and other digital devices are enabling some airports to track their whereabouts around the airport so extra staff can be dispatched to congested points, opening new queuing areas or even deploying the new invention of self-locating robotic check-in kiosks. Mobile phones, carried by over 98 per cent of airline passengers, are one of the secret sources feeding the data that pops up on those increasingly ubiquitous “wait time” screens, helping alleviate passenger exasperation by managing expectations.
One company that supplies airports around the world with this tech – in the UK it’s installed at Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh airports – is business intelligence company BLIP Systems, based near Aalborg, Denmark. Its BlipTrack system detects digital devices via their Bluetooth and WiFi activity in a non-intrusive way without identifying the passenger.
“Airports can use this information to understand things such as which parking spaces, airport entrances and services passengers use, how many people show up at airport processes, when they arrive and how long they wait,” says Christian Bugislaus Carstens, BLIP’s marketing manager. Of course, using sensors to track passengers’ digital devices prompts questions around the security and protection of personal data. According to Carsten, “each mobile device has a unique MAC address which is assigned to the device during manufacturing and cannot be modified. MAC addresses do not link to any individual user data, thus personal information is not revealed, and no personal data is collected, disclosed or otherwise processed by BLIP Systems, in compliance with the EU directive about privacy.”
More information can be found at Independent.co.uk