The Netherlands´ largest and busiest railway stations have turned to Bluetooth/Wi-Fi sensors for modelling vistor behavior for the purpose of efficient station re-design, optimizing operation and traveler experience, and improving revenue.
In the Netherlands, rail passenger transport has grown considerably during the last decades. Parallel to the increase in passenger numbers, train stations have transformed to places where people travel and perform activities, such as working, shopping and holding meetings. The combination means that the space is shared by more and more people. As capacity expansion is extremely expensive due to the dense urban environment in which these stations are situated, the need for valid passenger behavioral data to reduce bottlenecks and improve travelers comfort and safety, is very important.
To measure, understand and improve the complex visitor flows at Amsterdam Centraal, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Utrecht Centraal and Leiden Centraal railway stations, Netherlands Railways (Nederlandse Spoorwegen / NS) – the largest train and station operator in the Netherlands – has turned to the data collection solution BlipTrack from Denmark-based BLIP Systems.
Installed and organized by Royal HaskoningDHV, the solution provides NS with accurate passenger route and activity location choice behavior data, such as:
• Time spent in station before departure and after arrival
• Time spent by non-travelers
• Time spent on escalators, platforms, in retail and other station facilities
• Distribution of passengers on departing and arriving platforms, and transfers to/from platforms
• Entrance / exit usage
The data enables the train stations to add value of existing facilities and/or new investments, optimize operations, and improve the passenger flow. Ensuring an easy passage through the stations significantly increases the traveler experience and is key to unlocking potential gains, such as recurring passengers and increased non-transportation revenue.
“The main advantage of using WiFi/Bluetooth sensors is the low cost of measurements, especially for longer time frame deployments. Bluetooth/WiFi sensors are currently the most suitable technology for measuring slow mode traffic flows in an urban network, especially to derive the distribution of flows and route choice in the network,” says Jeroen van den Heuvel, Senior Researcher at NS Stations.
“We can see where the flow of pedestrians enter and leave the station and measure their numbers, walking routes, length of stay, times of day, and how busy the different locations are,” says Eelco Thiellier, SMART Station program manager at Royal HaskoningDHV.
“The success of transportation hub, such as a train station, is heavily influenced by the ability to handle passenger flow smoothly and efficiently. To understand and improve operations, it is important that the visitor’s journey through the station is seen as one process, rather than as a string of isolated events. The understanding that all individual events influence each other is key to unlocking potential gains,” explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager at BLIP Systems.
The solution works by placing sensors at strategic points within the station. The sensors detect mobile devices, such as mobile phones. By re-identifying the devices at multiple sensors, movement patterns, travel times and visitor occupancy can be measured and calculated—from the moment visitors arrive at train station, to boarding the train, and everywhere in between. Importantly, the solution does not send or track any personal information; it simply monitors the number of mobile phone signals in a given area.
With this information, management is provided with specific and accurate statistical information on the use of retail and facilities, enabling the station to optimize each and every area to operate optimally.
In addition to measuring passengers at Dutch train stations, BlipTrack is successfully employed in optimization efforts in more than 25 international airports, including Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, JFK Airport in New York, Toronto Pearson, Dubai, El-Prat Airport in Barcelona, Dulles Airport in Washington, Copenhagen, Oslo, Malpensa and Linate Airports in Milano, Manchester, Brussels, Dublin, San Diego, Helsinki, Auckland, Montreal, Genève, Birmingham, Bristol, Cincinnati, Brussels South Charleroi, Keflavik, Billund and Aalborg. The solution is also implemented in road traffic in Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Ireland. In recent years, the solution has also been rolled out in ports in Denmark and UK, ski resorts in the US, amusement parks, and at events all over the world.
“The main advantage of using WiFi/Bluetooth sensors is the low cost of measurements, especially for longer time frame deployments. Bluetooth/WiFi sensors are currently the most suitable technology for measuring slow mode traffic flows in an urban network, especially to derive the distribution of flows and route choice in the network”
Jeroen van den Heuvel
Senior Researcher at NS Stations
“BlipTrack allow us to gain a good understanding of check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”
Project Manager Landside Operations at Genève Aéroport
“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
Vice President, Customer Experience at CVG
“BlipTrack provides valuable information that helps everyone manage expectations, especially when lines get long. The solution alerts airport employees about developing bottlenecks which allows them to react to the situation more quickly.” Read more
Vice President at JFKIAT
“BlipTrack has enabled CVG to continue our close collaboration with TSA to ensure that the passenger experience is one that enhances the journey experience rather than detract from it.” Read more
CEO at Cincinnati Airport
“BLIP Systems provides us with valuable insights in passenger processes. The insights are used to continuously improve our performance together with our stakeholders. BLIP Systems has proved to be a reliable partner, with a clear understanding of our needs.”
Martijn Van Boxtel
Operational Manager Terminal Logistics at Schiphol Group
“BlipTrack has helped us to resource our operations on the day, and to identify pinch points and potential build ups. The very accurate data is used by our staff to monitor operations, and has enabled us to provide an optimum passenger experience by displaying accurate queue wait times.”
Technology Projects Manager at Dublin Airport Operations
“BlipTrack provides us with valuable real-time insights about passenger queue time dynamics. It helps our managers to secure low queue times at minimum cost, and also provides our Analysis Department with direct feedback on their forecasting performance.” Read more.
Head of Operational and Business Analysis at Copenhagen Airports
“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
Director of Operations at Brussels Airport