GlobalSign Blog

16 Oct 2018

Iot Fueling Airline Industry: Soar High with a Delightful Customer Experience

In this digital era, it has become indispensable to implement technology solutions throughout the airport ecosystem. It’s time to leverage The Internet of Things (IoT) to discover a whole new dimension to digital transformation. Service delivery improvements are an integral part of the airline industry. The unique combination of the IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) boosts these improvements. According to the Connected World report by World Economic Forum, flight delays at major US airports alone will cost commercial aviation an anticipated $20 billion by 2020.

Smart Airports employing the latest IoT technology not only deliver a delightful customer experience, but also make up for such losses. A report by Deloitte suggested that IoT could increase revenue for airport operators while improving the overall passenger experience at the same time.

Mobile and Beacon technologies optimize the travel and shopping experience at airports. IoT tools, like facial recognition technology, accelerate and optimize how quickly travelers board their flight. Whether it is shopping for the latest merchandise, efficiently boarding a plane, or getting through the terminal faster, IoT has become the game changer.

We know how IoT can help create a happy, stress-free, and secured traveling experience. It’s now time to learn about IoT applications in the airline industry.

Facial Recognition Technology: Hassle-free Security Checks

What Exactly is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition technology falls under the category of biometric software. It helps to mathematically map an individual’s facial features and store the data in the form of faceprint. The technology utilizes deep learning algorithms to compare a digital image or live capture to the stored faceprint. An individual’s identity can, thus, be verified.

How Does the Technology Function at Airports?

One of the major challenges that both customers and airport authorities face today are security checks. IoT can effectively overcome this challenge. The facial recognition software finds its application at these checkpoints. The technology enables airport authorities to match customers’ facial features with the data locked in blockchain systems. With every checkpoint receiving information on customer identity, the time between check-in and boarding gate automatically reduces.

Automatic sensors at security checkpoints also help minimize long queues. When connected to the mobile device of the traveler, sensors can easily reveal passenger’s identity and boarding details. Even airport security teams can access the traveler’s information, besides the analyzed reports of the luggage.

On the traveler’s front, sensor technology has helped reduce security wait times, making airport terminals more user-friendly. Security screening is the number one stressor for travelers. It makes for 36 percent of negative emotions along the journey, according to “The Future is Connected” 2016 Report by SITA. Travelers hate queues. Creating realistic wait-time expectations helps to mitigate their frustration and they feel content.

Biometrics affect the flying experience of customers to make it a positive and memorable one. Stephen Challis, Head of Product Development, Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), tells The Independent,

There’s a biometric trial running in Brisbane for six months. Here, passengers enroll their passports, boarding passes, and face images at check-in; using the same throughout the many control points at the airport. Passengers look at the camera at the boarding gate, and they are ready to take off. That’s a significant gain in speed and convenience for airport passengers.”

Real-World Example

San Jose International Airport, California, uses facial recognition technology to speed long lines at passport control. Screening all arriving and departing international passengers, they are photographed at the passport control. The software compares the image against visa photos or passport lying with the US Federal Government.

Beacons: Easy & Quick Airport Navigation

Do You Know What Beacons Are?

Beacons may be defined as small wireless sensors, generally placed in a casing. The technology makes use of Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with other smart devices. It is mainly employed for mapping and location services that use the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) estimate.

How Does the Technology Function at Airports?

Tired and frustrated customers pestering airport staff, long queues, waiting, last minute rushes to check-in kiosks, are a thing of the past. It’s “smart airport” time. Digital beacons can now be strategically placed throughout the airport. They offer real-time updates to travelers through SMS notifications. Such updates can be parking space available, airport shuttle schedules, restaurant table reservations, and more. More than 95 percent of travelers carry a mobile device to airports, making this type of service very appealing to both airports and customers alike.

Passenger flow management is also facilitated by beacons. For instance, if an airport witnesses a high volume of passengers ping a beacon around security checkpoint 1, resources can either be diverted to move them to the less crowded security line or provide additional staff at the over-crowded checkpoint.

Smart airports seamlessly guide travelers from check-in to take-off through digital beacon-linked maps. Easy navigation offers airport passengers a delightful retail and dining experience. Enhanced customer experiences, in turn, generate higher revenues for airports. Also, beacons help in airport staff tracking to guarantee airport security. Improved operational efficiency is another primary advantage of this technology.

Real-World Example

The Côte d’Azur Airport, Nice, Paris, has installed various beacons across its terminal to send contextual retail information and promotions to travelers roaming around the terminal. The beacon-enabled app of the airport automatically collects points when Airport Premium members navigate through the airport. Premier Gold members automatically use their frequent flyer card with access to Fast Track Security. Integrating loyalty programs on the app delights passengers.

Beacons and RFID Tags: Secured Luggage Tracking and Management

What is RFID?

An acronym for Radio-Frequency Identification, RFID is a technology in which digital data is encoded in RFID tags or smart labels. A reader then captures the information using radio waves and stores it in a database. RFID tags have gained popularity, as their data can be read outside the line-of-sight.

How Do Beacon and RFID Tag Technologies Function at Airports?

IoT beacons and RFID tags are crucial for secured luggage tracking and management. Beacons connect to the cellular network of an airport. RFID automatically detects and tracks tags attached to bags without human intervention. With a distinct advantage over barcodes, RFID permits information to be read outside the baggage system.

Live information about baggage location, right from bag check-in to cargo-hold, thus, becomes possible. Passengers receive real-time SMS notifications on their baggage status. Ground handlers also receive notifications to put bags back on course for their intended flights. This is a particular benefit for bags transferred from one flight to the other. Besides this, the cargo close-out process becomes simpler with these technologies tracking down lost items. There are fewer bags lost and, hence, reduced passenger reimbursement expenses.

25 million checked bags are lost every year. Beacon and RFID-based IoT solutions can not only drastically reduce this considerable number, but also increase operational efficiency and ease customer concerns about the safety of their luggage.

25 million checked bags are lost every year. IoT Technology solves this! @globalsign

Real-World Example

Hong Kong International Airport has installed over 50 beacons at Terminal 1 to activate sending relevant messages to travelers. They even send images of baggage carousels to the beacon-enabled app. In addition to this, the airport guides travelers across its significant areas utilizing user-friendly and interactive navigation maps.

Bluetooth Wireless Sensors: Reduced Flight Delays

What Are Bluetooth Beacon Sensors?

Bluetooth beacon sensors offer sensor data. They are equipped with sensor capabilities to detect movement (accelerometer), air pressure, temperature, humidity, magnetism (Hall Effect), light, proximity, heart rate, Near Field Communication (NFC), and fall detection. Using Bluetooth low energy technology for data transmission, the sensors are the most suitable for IoT applications.

How Do Beacon Sensors Function at Airports?

Beacon sensors have found their application in airports. Airports can monitor conditions for take-off and landing. Linking simple weather monitor beacons at each runway to the airport’s more extensive network is now possible. Networked monitoring provides timely and accurate information for passenger-targeted apps. They can, thus, learn reasons for the stoppage, or delay, in their journey.

Runway-specific monitoring, in particular, is very useful during flash floods and icy weather, as such weather conditions are unpredictable. It allows airports to make decisions in the interest of their passengers’ safety.

Between June 2015 and June 2016, more than 1 million flight delays lead to almost 64 million minutes of wait time for travelers. Such flight delays and huge related expenses, on the part of the aviation industry, can be addressed through networked IoT weather monitoring.

Between June 2015 and 2016, more than 1 million flight delays lead to almost 64 million minutes of wait time for travelers. Such flight delays can be addressed through networked IoT weather monitoring. @globalsign

Proximity Sensors: Gazing Airport Passenger Flow and Behavior

What Are Proximity Sensors?

Sensors that convert information, based on the presence of an object or movement, into an electrical signal, are known as proximity sensors. Such devices detect nearby objects without any physical contact within a nominal range.

How Do Proximity Sensors Function at Airports?

Proximity sensors help to link airline technology and airports to smartphones of travelers. According to Unacast Proxbook Report Q3 2016, about 90 percent of airports globally implement either a commercial deployment or a trial project that relates to proximity sensors. The report values the proximity market to be $52.46 billion by 2022.

Proximity sensors enhance airport security and retail experience for passengers – security teams can send more security personnel to higher populated areas of the airport, allowing retailers to push promotional messages and special offers to people near the store with augmented reality to guide travelers to particular locations via arrows on their smartphones, and more.

Real-World Example

Gatwick Airport, UK, utilizes beacons and proximity sensors for indoor navigation. Generic information collected on “people’s densities” in different beacon zones help to improve airport operations.

IoT and Cybersecurity

As you can see, airports are more connected than ever before, relying on the cloud, integrated systems, and the IoT for increased operational efficiencies. Interconnectedness, however, opens the door to spear phishing, security breaches, identity theft, malware, and social engineering tricks. A breach within the airport system could expose personal data of passengers, affect back-office systems and security checks, manipulate arrival and departure notifications, and more. Not only does this negatively affect airport operations, but also damages its reputation and can lead to lost revenue.

Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” solution for airport cybersecurity. The answer isn’t just installing the latest malware detection software or firewall. Conducting a proactive risk assessment is the most ideal way to detect vulnerabilities and create a holistic Information Technology (IT) security program. A comprehensive computer security plan incorporates penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tools, risk management programs, and the right source code practices.

Also, airports need to integrate physical and network security solutions. Bridging the gap between computer security and IT offers a smarter and stronger defense against cyber-attacks. Airports need to ensure constant internal education about security policies and their enforcement. Putting into effect best security practices within its vendor and partner environment is also essential. Partnering with IoT vendors that have built core cybersecurity functions, such as encryption and strong authentication, into their solutions is the safest bet here.

The Way Ahead: IoT in the Sky

When we talk about an ideal IoT adoption strategy, the airline industry would need to employ a “start, learn, prove, and improve” methodology. It’s time that they experiment with new technologies progressively. Integrating IoT with other technologies, like cloud computing, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI), will create many and better opportunities for improving airline service quality.

As the airline industry gears up for the IoT revolution, shift towards a cognitive era in business has already begun. Digital technology capabilities that airlines build today will play a crucial role in their evolution as intellectual organizations of tomorrow.

About the Author

Dwayne Charrington is a technical writer currently associated with ProProfs Help Desk. He possesses hands-on experience in writing for the customer service industry. Dwayne is insightful when it comes to industrial challenges, emerging customer service trends, and how businesses overcome related challenges. He has written extensively on cybersecurity, digital marketing, consumer behavior, and IT. Dwayne likes drawing connections between different industries and entities while designing his blogs. He has helped businesses learn how to get the maximum out of their customers by leveraging digital technologies of today. In his leisure time, Dwayne prefers watching action thrillers and loves bungee jumping.

About the Company

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Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.

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