We’re constantly hearing airports say, ‘My terminal was designed for 10 million passengers, now I’m at 15 million, we’re growing 10% each year and we’re struggling to cope!’ The same challenge of operating beyond capacity affects tiny and massive airports alike.
There is often a planned grand solution to this challenge, like building a new terminal, but this new capacity is inevitably years away and expensive. So how can airports cope with crowding now? Well the solution has to be to sweat the existing assets – make every square foot, every check-in desk and every security lane count. In reality that means optimisation – of workforce size, staffing rosters, desk and kiosk allocations, transaction times, security lane throughputs, queue layouts, passenger flow and signage, baggage flows, real estate allocations, gate allocations, inter-terminal transport solutions, and lots more! And it means optimisation for an hour from now, a day from now or a year from now, especially when operating at capacity during peak times.
AP Insights had an interview with Stuart Mills, Chief Operating Officer with CrowdVision, about how automated passenger analytics can help airports cope with crowding and create extra capacity.
Stuart is responsible for all global operations, customer success, sales/marketing, and service delivery. He has been with CrowdVision for approximately 2.5 years and spends a significant amount of time meeting with customers and helping to ensure they gain the benefits from their CrowdVision deployment.
AP Insights: Can you explain how automated people tracking works and how it can help airports cope with crowding?
Stuart Mills, Chief Operating Officer with Crowd Vision: “CrowdVision’s video-based people software shows what is happening to an entire passenger population, in real time. This enables airports to act decisively to increase efficiency and profitability whilst improving their passengers’ experience.
We deliver a solution to optimise the passenger experience within designated spaces and which not only allows our customers to understand passenger activity within their environment, but also whether assets such as check-in desks or security points are being utilised by staff.
CrowdVision provides our customers with live data (via 3D dashboards) and historical data (via our reporting tool) to enable them to respond promptly to changing conditions and plan for the future based on legacy activity.
The CrowdVision solution, through the use of AI and machine learning, and by leveraging ‘off the shelf’ cameras/sensors, identifies people (but not individuals) within designated spaces and how the spaces are being used, for example, check-in lines or security lines.”
Often people turn first to technology in a search for solutions. Automatic gates are purchased for immigration halls and faster lanes for security screening. They promise enhanced performance – better throughputs with lower staffing requirements. All great – except that technology procurement alone is never the answer. There is absolutely no point investing in a super high throughput automated security lane and then only achieving half the planned throughput uplift, and yet this is usually what happens because the multiple interacting steps in the process are not well understood or coordinated.
The reality is that optimisation takes hard work over time and requires alignment between people, processes and technology. And it can’t be achieved without accurate,detailed, relevant, actionable data on each step of the process. Data, for example, on why the new security lane is not delivering higher throughputs – on the process of directing passengers from lines to divestment stations, tray availability, passenger separation of liquids and laptops and the divestment process overall, flow management through metal detectors and body scanners,secondary passenger screening, bag collection, re-composition, secondary bag search, flows out of the checkpoint. The efficiency of the whole end-to-end operation can be destroyed if there are inefficiencies or chokepoints at any stage. And removing those chokepoints to keep things moving requires constant measurement and optimisation of how both bags and passengers are moving through the process, where congestion is causing waiting, why the congestion is occurring and what layouts, processes or resources need to be adjusted to align and optimise flows.”
AP Insights: How video-based pedestrian analytics solutions differ from those that rely upon Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth sniffing?
Stuart Mills: “The CrowdVision solution benefits from being able to accurately detect 100% of people within designated spaces, rather than ‘sampling’ or trying to estimate the number of people based on ‘mobile’ signal. Video-based analytics have been proved to be significantly more accurate, and in particular to CrowdVision, these analytics can be driven via ‘off the shelf’ equipment, rather than relying on provider specific hardware solutions.”
AP Insights: Who are the CrowdVision customers and can you tell us more about their benefits of this collaboration?
Stuart Mills: “CrowdVision’s customers span the globe and include Austin South, London City Airport, London Heathrow, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. ‘
Our customers see a noticeable improvement in Customer Satisfaction, Staffing Models, Asset Utilisation and Airport Experience. They often deploy the solution throughout the airport (turn-up, check-in, security,departures and arrivals).
Especially in privately-run, efficiency-driven operations there is evidence of exceptional gains from taking a data-driven approach to maximising throughput from constrained spaces, resources and budgets. We have seen an airport leverage CrowdVision data to change check-in desk, kiosk and real estate allocation – freeing up capacity for another airline to start operating from an already busy terminal. We have enabled data-driven optimisation in automated security lanes to deliver not only materially enhanced throughputs but also reduced passenger time in the screening process. And CrowdVision data has been used to optimise layouts in integrated departure lounges to deliver increased retail performance and better passenger experience.”
AP Insights: What about the privacy issues?
Stuart Mills: “A wide range of security and privacy measures and features are built into the solution. The cameras allocated to the CrowdVision system are deliberately mounted directly overhead. This means the system doesn’t see faces and just detects people as data points - there is no identification of individuals unlike with other technology solutions that detect mobile devices.Video cameras are used only as sensors and no video is stored; so it can’t be reused. This is not big brother!
We’re in the game of anonymised yet accurate and detailed passenger flow measurements to enable airports to keep people moving - which keeps planes flying on time and removes painful queuing, waiting and congestion. Good for everyone!’
if you want to learn more about how to work with CrowdVision to create capacity where you didn’t think you had any, go to www.crowdvision.com