Using surveillance technology to drive operational efficiency in airports

Right now, airports around the world are challenged with capacity. As passenger confidence returns, this has been met by staff shortages, meaning that many airports have struggled to cope with demand. As a result, long delays have impacted the customer experience.

While security departments brace against the challenge that high capacity brings, there is economic pressure associated with running an efficient and effective airport operation. As airport management continues to look towards efficiencies, leaders are looking at high surveillance budgets and asking, what additional value can they bring?

For forward-thinking airports, far from the perception that the network camera system is simply a cost-center, there’s a realization that it’s a platform for growth. In addition to their vital surveillance role, cameras can drive efficiency, profitability, and, against the recent reminder of long queues, they can also help improve the customer experience, a vital step in ensuring long-term occupancy.

The opportunity for security departments

Artificial intelligence (AI) with deep learning, coupled with IP Camera data collection, is starting to disrupt the world as we know it. There is a paradigm shift regarding today’s network cameras; instead of being passive recipients, the camera along with AI algorithms are able to collate and analyze data. They can also deliver tangible outcomes, such as alerts and integration with wider devices, including visual messaging systems. The IP camera is the ultimate sensor.  If the camera can see it, the AI / Deep learning  algorithms can analyze it. The benefit for security departments, as key stakeholders of the surveillance system, is that they have an increasingly important role to play in bringing greater value to an airport by increasing camera coverage.

Increasing operational efficiency, the surveillance technology can improve aircraft turnaround time by optimizing staff effectiveness and providing data to improve existing operational systems. This will also create a more sustainable operation, lowering fuel use and reducing the carbon footprint. Decreasing waiting times and easing the stress of bottlenecks will enhance the customer experience, while camera data can also improve marketing at retail and hospitality outlets, helping to drive sales and profitability.

Improving efficiency in action

Utilizing the technology deployed to optimize an airport’s security, gains in efficiency and value can be made across the airport environment.

Safe, efficient perimeter surveillance for entry and exit points

Using camera analytics to help understand vehicle traffic flow into and out of the airport, including busy periods, will ease congestion and improve the customer experience. Vehicle license plate recognition technology ensures efficient security with free-flowing traffic, combined with surveillance to quickly identify and deal with any incidents at drop-off zones that could impede fluid movement.

Meanwhile, to improve passenger flow via public transport links, people counting technology provides insight on total footfall, informing processes to optimize flow at peak times. The technology can also help understand the passenger journey, ensuring the route they take is the quickest and easiest, and make improvements accordingly.

Car parking

Combining cameras with audio and visual messaging can help drivers locate available parking spaces, as well as aggregating data to improve traffic flow within a parking lot. Passengers also want reassurance that their vehicle will be safe, and pre-recorded or even live messaging can increase their confidence in security.

Landside

As the ‘non-sterile’ side of terminal buildings already include an abundance of existing surveillance technology, this enables a significant efficiency gain at the area of the greatest concentration of people. Here too, people counting technology provides useful analysis, and together with queue monitoring technology, passenger waiting times can be reduced and staff planning can be optimized.

Queue Monitor provides integration with alerts to operations management for a real-time response, such as opening new check-in desks or security check gates. This can also be combined with visual and audio messaging to passengers to ease flow and improve their experience as they travel through the terminal. For longer-term resolution of bottlenecks, analytics data can be used to better plan staff resources.

Airside

With fewer security concerns in the departure lounge and at boarding gates, surveillance technology is increasingly used to improve the profitability retail facilities of with analysis to optimize marketing. Utilizing camera data to track the customer journey through the airport including retail establishments  can improve store location decisions. Meanwhile, linked alerts can enable a fast reaction to dwell locations, as well as the build-up of queues, in order to provide customer assistance when required.

While surveillance still has a traditional role to play, including monitoring passenger safety, it can also be used to maintain service areas, including restrooms, by optimizing the quality and cleanliness of facilities with people counting. Even through to the boarding gate, cameras can be used to analyze trends such as the volume of passengers with carry-on baggage or wheelchair assistance, gathering data that can improve operational effectiveness.

Ramp

While passengers focus on their journeys, at the ramp, airport staff operate like a race car pit-stop crew to ensure refuelling, baggage handling, cleaning and catering activities are completed on time. Camera analytics can monitor for any hold-ups that can be responded to in real time, reducing the potential of delays and the domino effect to further flights. This data can also be used to improve service level agreement enforcement with contractors.

Open development platform to increase efficiency and value

The advantages of data analytics should be based on open development. This enables third-parties to use the camera technology as a platform for growth, developing new applications that improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, as well as the customer experience.

An airport’s surveillance system is no longer just a cost item. Facilitating other airport departments to increase efficiency and value, the security team and the infrastructure it manages is becoming increasingly important on a strategic level.

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