As air travel is getting more affordable, the number of air travelers is skyrocketing. According to the recent findings by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the total air passenger traffic will reach 8.2 Billion by 2037. Along with passenger numbers, passenger expectations are also growing. These rising passenger numbers have put pressure on airports all over the world to increase its operational efficiency and enhance the passenger experience by cutting queues and make the journey from entrance to departure gate as seamless as possible. It’s vital that airports keep up with meeting the demand in volume while also catering to the increasing needs of each passenger.
Passengers often face long unruly queues throughout the airport. This will ultimately lead to a decrease in passenger satisfaction. To solve such overcrowding and queues, an airport operator has to increase the number of counters, staffs and other facilities. This solution is frowned upon by the authorities since it is not a scalable solution and leads to higher operating costs.
What airport management needs are meaningful insights to make the right decisions at the right time to manage the ever-growing passenger numbers along with capacity constraints. But how can an airport meet this objective with its existing infrastructure and resources? Here, an AI-powered real-time video analytics solutions could be the answer.
While live monitoring of events and locations has been around for a while, the AI-based intelligent analysis of video footage is relatively new. Airports are fully covered by CCTV in every corner. They record hours and hours of video only to be monitored by human workers to review and interpret events. It is effective to some extent, but all these footages were almost never watched or put to practical use. This is where AI-based Video Analytics comes in. AI-based video analytics uses algorithms and computer vision technology to look at video feeds, commonly taken from CCTV cameras to detect patterns and trends. The analysis happens in real-time and delivers actionable intelligence such as crowd gathering, people’s emotions, and behaviors, general heat mapping, etc. AI-based video analytics solutions can be used to analyze huge volumes of raw video data to enhance the safety and security of an airport.
The technology can vastly improve operations and guest experience, preventing security threats and improving post-event investigations in an airport without any capacity limit. Video analytics can track objects and persons across cameras, monitor and manage passenger and traffic flow, control restricted areas without human intervention. It can reduce risk, optimize staff performance, enhance passenger satisfaction and more. Let’s see how;
Airports are some of the busiest places in the world, especially if it’s a transit hub. How an airport operator can move its passengers seamlessly from drop-off to check-in, past screening and into retail and boarding areas directly impacts their level of satisfaction. With an AI-powered video analytics solution, an airport operator will have a full and deep understanding of the airport traffic flow patterns. They can track passenger flow right from the parking lots to the check-in lobbies, security checkpoints, terminals, and even individual gates. With these insights, the airport operator can have a better understanding of terminal usage and density. It will be very helpful to redesign the terminal layout to prevent overcrowding and ensure a smooth passenger flow. Since the system can monitor multiple locations at the same time, airport operators can easily identify where bottlenecks lie. The operator will also be able to understand where overcrowding tends to occur and act predictively by deploying enough staff. It can also provide insights about common paths or gathering areas to take intelligent decisions and strategic planning. Ultimately it will lead to reduced waiting times, increased throughput, and satisfied travelers.
Airport retail is a critical revenue stream for airport operators. They increasingly rely on this commercial revenue stream to generate a profit. Airport retail revenues make a structurally important contribution to the financing of airports and their infrastructure. For many large airports, these retail revenue will make up to 80% of their profit margins. These profits from retail stores can be used to provide subsidy to airline operations which leads to good connectivity and cheap flight tickets. Hence it’s crucial for airport operators to increase revenue from airport retail. In such a scenario, a video analytics solution can greatly improve the airport’s retail revenue. The system can provide valuable insights about passenger’s purchase habits to the retail shops in the terminal. The system can track various parameters such as consumer dwell time, consumer demographics, paths taken by the shopper, emotion detection and their satisfaction level based on their on-premise activities which all can be leveraged to provide a personalized shopping experience and provide relevant promotions which can lead to more sales. It can also provide crowd analytics and people counting to help retailers in the terminal with staffing decisions.
The rapid increase in air passengers has escalated the occurrences of security threats. Unfortunately, security checkpoints become a major bottleneck for travelers. Airport Operators are struggling to ensure safety and security without compromising passenger experience. AI-based video analytics can significantly improve the safety and security of airports without creating bottlenecks. The problem with the current CCTV security infrastructure is that it is monitored by humans and as time goes by, humans naturally get more tired and begin to miss more and more events on screen. A video analytics suite can remove much of the human error that comes from monitoring video feeds and analyze data and identify threats faster than a human could.
The system is able to analyse passenger’s emotions and their satisfaction level based on their on-premise activities. The system can be used in various applications such as movement-rule violations, intrusion detection, suspicious incident detection etc to provide a better level of security. For example, at immigration desks the system scans passengers’ facial data constantly, comparing it in real-time against a database of known suspects. This helps to identify blacklisted people and prevent them from flying or committing crimes. Meanwhile, at passenger security screening, video analytics can continuously monitor unattended screening lanes for intruders or detect unattended luggage in a vast terminal. With a good understanding of how these areas are used, the airport operator can make appropriate staffing decisions and protocol improvement for the overall security.
Video analytics also plays a crucial role in airside security and operations. Airports are having a vast compound. Surveillance is needed at all times over a wide area to cover all entry points. Traditional perimeter protection involves huge compound walls and fences with sensors. Some airports even deploy surveillance teams in vehicles that patrol the perimeter constantly. However, these methods are far from perfect. Sometimes sensors may raise false alarms triggered by animals or windy conditions while security teams resources can miss a security breach due to a lack of personnel available to investigate or due to extreme weather conditions. To combat these issues, intelligent surveillance solutions can be used. Video analytics can detect unusual activity along the fence and trigger an alert. It can also differentiate between humans and animals, reducing the number of false alarms to practically zero.
The airport traffic control tower is directly responsible for managing handling, take-offs, and all movement of aircraft within the airport terminal control area. It keeps aircraft from colliding with each other. Hence there should be no room for mistakes. ATC often finds it very difficult to spot or track various aircraft in an airport. They need to rely on binoculars to track aircraft movement but sometimes visibility can below if it’s raining or if there is fog or snow. With cameras and AI-based video analytics, ATC can cover large areas with as few monitors as possible so that air traffic control personnel can work efficiently. It can check ‘Runway Holding Positions’ for various aircraft, rapid recognition of danger situations, optical check of all operations, etc. For instance, on the taxiway, ATC can detect dangerous situations and document whole incident operations quickly with optical verification. With such a system ATC can make sure everything is under control. The system can identify specific behaviors of ground handling staff, planes, and vehicles in an active and dynamic scene. It can instantly alert security personnel when something or someone is not in the right place.
The runway is the most important part of any airport. It needs to be kept as free as possible of all hazards to aircraft operation. However, it also poses a major challenge for optical surveillance systems. It’s difficult to monitor several meters of runways with traditional surveillance methods. This is where video analytics comes handy. It can monitor the whole Runway with minimal resources. It can combine images from various cameras to form an overall image for object recognition. It can detect animals, birds, foreign bodies present on the Runway and alert the concerned authorities.
Parking is a perplexing challenge for many airports. Travelers, visitors, and employees encounter parking problems. Harried travelers running late get irritated driving up and down the rows looking for available spaces. Exhausted travelers who can’t remember where they parked wander lots looking for their vehicles. Video analytics can be used to remedy such problems and improve the overall parking experience for customers. For example, intelligent video analytics can detect empty parking slots, the total number of parked vehicles/empty slots and even the time spent by each vehicle in the slot. These insights can be relayed to parking management staff which in turn helps incoming vehicles to find the nearest parking spot very easily. Moreover, the system can identify the vehicle registration number and record the time it entered the facility. This can be used to generate accurate parking bills or tickets. Automatic Number Plate Recognition System’ also enables the airport operator to automate vehicle identification and management of taxi partners.
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An airport operator requires a new way to innovate and improve the security and operations of an airport. The use of AI-powered video analytics solutions in an airport can make many tasks easy for the airport operator. With such a system, airports can enhance the passenger’s airport experience with limited capacity and resources. The system will help the operator to reduce the requirement of manpower while improving operational efficiency and reducing the mismanagement of airport facilities From passenger queue management to good shopping experience, from detecting intruders to finding unattended baggage, from recognizing suspicious behavior to smooth parking, AI-powered video analytics solutions can provide tangible and measurable benefits. The main goal here is to have happy travelers that will contribute to the airport’s commercial success and an AI-powered video analytics solution can improve passenger’s level of satisfaction significantly.