Brussels Airport sees success and extends the use of BlipTrack sensors to improve services and operations in one of Europe´s soon to be largest security screening areas.

Optimising one of Europe´s largest airport security areas.
One of the most striking innovations at Brussels Airport is the new Connector, a building that links the passenger terminal to Pier A, above-ground. The new Connector building, opening March 2015, will contain one of Europe´s largest central security areas and will annually serve over 10 million passengers.

Sensors help passengers travel faster through airport processes.
To help ensure that Brussels Airport travelers experience a quick and easy passage through the first stage of their journey in the new Connector building, it is important that airport management is able to monitor passenger queue and wait times, and receive real-time information about the operational status and unexpected changes. For more than 5 years, Brussels Airport has relied on data from BlipTrack sensors, from Danish technology company BLIP systems, to accomplish this task.

Wait time information reduces passenger frustration.
With this information, Brussels Airport has been able to provide optimum passenger service by displaying wait times on signs, websites and mobile applications, helping the passengers to reduce frustration and enjoy a more stress-free and pleasant transit experience by better utilising wait times.

Improving operation and passenger experience.
The solution also enables Brussels Airport to respond promptly and effectively to irregular operations and disruptions, improve services and performance, efficiently allocate staff resources, comply with airline service-level agreements and billing of third-party operators serving the various airport processes.

Sensors monitor passengers in all airport processes.
In addition to the new Connector building, Brussels Airport is already using the BlipTrack solution with great success in all major airport processes: security, passport, immigration, transfer, arrival baggage claim and most recently, the taxi rank.

“BlipTrack enables Brussels Airport to monitor the quality of the terminal processes and to improve the resource planning. The collected wait time data and throughput is also used to perform consistent reporting to internal and external stakeholders. For the new Connector building, Brussels Airport relies on the experience of BLIP Systems to develop a network of measuring points based on the passenger flows and Brussels Airport’s preferences,” says Thomas Sterken, Project Manager of Operations at Brussels Airport.

“Brussels Airport has been a customer of BLIP Systems since 2010. At BLIP Systems, we value the long-term cooperation with Brussels Airport and their professional approach in using data to ensure efficient operations and passenger satisfaction—while increasing passenger numbers. The implementation of BlipTrack sensors covering the new Connector building will ensure that passengers experience a quick and easy passage through the first stage of the journey, while significantly increasing the opportunity for a positive experience throughout the airport. We look forward to be a part of Brussels Airport ongoing plan in becoming one of Europe's most progressive and service-minded airports,” says Peter Knudsen, CEO at BLIP Systems.

The solution works by placing BlipTrack sensors on pre-set paths, such as in the security screening process. The sensors collect the unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of phones and other wireless devices actively searching for a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. As a person passes a sensor, the MAC address, when enabled, is matched between sensors to provide origin and destination data as well as travel time. The solution protects individual´s privacy by having the individual sensors convert the detected mobile devices, which contain no personal information, into anonymised and encrypted hashes.

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.

“BlipTrack enables us to monitor the quality of the terminal processes to improve resource planning, and to perform consistent reporting to internal and external stakeholders.”Read more

Ward Decaluwé

Director of Operations at Brussels Airport