How do you measure the success of events? Do events increase revenue? How many people are there in the city during a large-scale event? Where do they park? These are some of the questions that Aalborg City Business Association gets answered using crowd-sourced data.

The Aalborg City Business Association has installed BlipTrack Wi-Fi device-detecting sensors in pedestrian areas of the Danish city to track visitor behaviour. The solution is used to monitor real-time pedestrian flow; visitor dwell time and movement patterns—from the moment they enter an area until they leave, and everywhere in between. 

Aalborg-City-SensorsThe data provides Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding of the impact of large-scale events, such as the annual Christmas market, Black Friday and The Tall Ships Races. Also, the data is used by the municipality for urban development, to optimise the flow of cars and people. And finally, shopkeepers can understand retail browsing and purchase patterns to streamline future retail operation, such as tweaking opening hours and allocate staff resources by demand.

Pedestrian-Bubble“The solution works by detecting Wi-Fi devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, in the proximity of a Bliptrack sensor. Each device has a unique MAC address which is assigned to the device during manufacturing. These MAC addresses do not link to any individual user data, thus personal information is not revealed. As pedestrians, cyclists or cars passes the sensors, travel times, dwell times, average speeds and movement patterns become available, both in real-time and historically", explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo.

Flemming“If we are not able to measure the impact of events, such as the Christmas market, which costs over 1 million DKK ($160,000 US) to arrange, then the event is not justifiable, and perhaps money could be better utilised elsewhere,” Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association, said in a statement.

Aalborg City Business Association have also gathered other useful information during other events, such as at The Tall Ships Races. With visitors totalling 2.4 million, The Tall Ships Races constitute the most significant events in the history of Aalborg. Here the collected data showed that during the event, there were twice as many people in the city's shopping areas, which represents an increase that exceeds the Christmas shopping season. The data unfortunately also showed that there were many people present at times when the stores had closed. This information enables the Business Association to adjust opening hours when similar events are arranged.

"The data show that even when the municipality and sponsors spend a lot of money on these kind of events, the money comes back one way or another. It contributes to underpin retail, cafes and restaurants in the city, that needs to hire people," says Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association.

In the case of the Aalborg City Business Association, seven sensors were mounted, but in the Aalborg municipality, around 75 sensors are placed. These sensors measure travel times and flow on the highway, port and airport. 

In addition to measuring traffic in cities, ports, ski resorts, amusement parks and at events around the world, the solution is successfully employed in optimisation efforts in more than 25 international airports, including JFK in New York, Cincinnati, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, Manchester, Copenhagen and Helsinki.

Ever-increasing global travel volume is having a severe impact on airports like New Zealand’s Auckland International, which saw over 19 million passengers last year. The airport is taking the increased passenger flow and logistics issues seriously, using a unique combination of traffic and passenger flow measurement technology. The result? Faster travel times, acceptable wait times, less passenger stress and a wealth of information that helps the airports and the city to plan resources more efficiently.

Auckland - a growing hub for travel

Auckland Airport expects to host over 40 million passengers annually by the year 2044. To cope with the increase in passenger load, the airport embarked on a wide-ranging and world first combined passenger-flow and road-traffic measurement project, with the goal of obtaining a cohesive real-time view of people movement patterns, to guide daily and long-term operational decisions, maximise capacity and improve flow.

In its build, the airport has opted to aim for sustainability, while ensuring that they will not only have the capacity to handle the extra people, but also the capability to make the passenger journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Keeping things flowing

Smooth passenger flow, both in the arrival and departure terminals, and the concession and transit waiting areas, as well as on the roads surrounding the airport, is critical to the successful operation of an airport.

Issues with traffic flows can result in delays for passengers, airport staff and airline crew, resulting in disruptions to airport and airline operations.

To manage both passenger and traffic flow, Auckland Airport realised they needed to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire system, as well as detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. They also needed a way to act when things start to bottleneck.

With several traffic monitoring projects in New Zealand, using the same technology, infrastructure consultants Beca was commissioned to extend the solution across the airport’s roading infrastructure. It now provides the airport with a seamless picture of traffic flow information between the airport and Auckland CBD (Central Business District, also called the city centre).

How it works

On the Road

Outside the airport, the solution measures traffic flow between the CBD and the airport, providing real-time data on reliability, vehicle counts and travel time.

It provides data about the mix of staff and passengers using the Park and Ride facility, enabling the airport to understand the performance better and regularly review how they can improve their facilities. This information is also analysed to help planning decisions for road network maintenance and infrastructure projects.

The insights, collected using a range of technologies, including radar and WiFi sensors, also help the New Zealand Traffic Agency (NZTA) to make informed traffic management decisions and has allowed for the implementation of a number of initiatives to improve the traffic flow to the airport. It includes optimising traffic signal timings, and combined with the recent opening of the newly constructed Waterview connection, has resulted in significant travel time cuts to and from the airport from the CBD and West Auckland.

Also, the real-time and historical BlipTrack data enables NZTA, via their new app RideMate and online, to display live travel times between the CBD and airport, as well as informing about days with a high risk of congestion. It enables road users to plan ahead, reducing both the risk of travellers missing their flight and airport employees coming in late for work.

Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, the historical data is used to detect driving time anomalies. Effectively, this means that the solution can pinpoint road sections and intersections where driving times deviate from the norm as a result of construction projects, incidents, roadwork, faulty traffic lights and other factors. With this information at hand, real-time traffic management can take place.

Richard Young, Senior Associate at Beca, says: “The intelligence that BlipTrack is delivering has already proved its value, by providing automated alerts on delays on vulnerable corridors, real-time counts on traffic flows and delays, and intelligence on the origin and destination of vehicle movements into the airport and to terminals and car parks.”

In the airport

Inside the airport, the solution provides metrics on passenger queue times and volume, as well as insight into passenger movement patterns throughout the international and domestic terminals´ departure and arrival processes.

It helps the airport better manage and support resources by focusing on high-demand locations and periods. Likewise, the data directly benefits passengers by displaying wait times at security checkpoints, managing passenger expectations and reducing queue-related stress.

Mark Croudace, Manager – Operations at Auckland International Airport, says: “BlipTrack was a critical investment. The data has provided valuable insight into our operational performance across both our assets and processes. Most importantly, it has enabled us to have meaningful conversations with our key operational stakeholders and vendors, as we collectively seek to improve the passenger experience.”

Changing the face of travel

Numerous other international airports, including Amsterdam Schiphol, Copenhagen, Dublin, Brussels, Bristol and Billund, are following suit. These airports have recognised that comprehensive, seamless passenger flow data is indispensable in guiding physical expansion plans, and for streamlining operations to accommodate rapid passenger volume growth, without compromising the passenger experience.

“By having Auckland Airport and Beca working together, and by sharing data between multiple solutions, BlipTrack provides a solution that no other product in the industry can currently reproduce – large-scale, seamless, door-to-door movement management between different modes of transport. And because it´s not only limited to certain areas, it can be considered as one of the first real, tangible steps to true multimodal traffic management,” ends Peter Knudsen, CEO of BLIP Systems.

Besides providing airports around the world with seamless passenger flow data, the solution is employed in optimisation efforts in road traffic applications in Switzerland, Thailand, Canada, the UK, Denmark and Sweden. In recent years, it has been rolled out in ports, train stations, ski resorts, amusement parks, and at events around the world.

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Auckland Airport Take to the Streets to Boost City-to-Gate Passenger Experience.

“The BlipTrack solution provides the Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding on how people move within the city and measures the economic impact of events. The data allow us to analyze, optimize and improve large-scale events”. Read more

Flemming Tingbak

Director of Aalborg City Business Association

“BLIP systems´ traffic monitoring solution BlipTrack has given us a unique opportunity to deliver new logistics solutions for the benefit of our customers”. Read more

Mette Schmidt

Chief Technical Officer for the Port of Aalborg

“BlipTrack helps us manage and eliminate potential problem spots within the facility. Sharing the processing time with our travelers provides them with peace of mind, so they may continue to expect a pleasant travel experience.” Read more

Gert-Jan de Graaff

President and CEO of JFKIAT

“BlipTrack provides us with immediate visibility to the customer experience and resource effectiveness with throughput planning. The solution allows us to put the customer at ease at a critical stress point and reinforces our expectations around superior customer experience.” Read more

Brian Cobb

Vice President, Customer Experience at CVG