The Netherlands´ largest and busiest railway stations have turned to Bluetooth/Wi-Fi sensors for modelling visitor behaviour for the purpose of efficient station re-design, optimizing operation and traveller 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 space is shared by more and more people. As capacity expansion is costly due to the dense urban environment in which these stations are situated, the need for valid passenger behavioural data to reduce bottlenecks and improve travellers comfort and safety is critical.
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.
Installed and organised by Royal HaskoningDHV, the solution provides NS with exact passenger route and activity location-choice behaviour data, such as:
• Time spent in station before departure and after arrival
• Time spent by non-travellers
• 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 to existing facilities and new investments, optimise operations, and improve the passenger flow. Ensuring an easy passage through the stations significantly increases the traveller 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 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 for BlipTrack at Veovo.
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 optimise every area to operate optimally.
In addition to measuring passengers at Dutch train stations, BlipTrack is successfully employed in optimisation efforts in more than 25 international airports. It includes Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, JFK Airport in New York, Copenhagen, Oslo, Malpensa and Linate Airports in Milano, Manchester, Brussels, Dublin and Auckland; 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.
“BlipTrack was our first “innovative” push for our organization. This has subsequently paid off in operational efficiency, customer goodwill, effective supporting deployment strategies, positive organizational momentum as well as positive global press and organizational credibility.”
Chief Innovation Officer at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
“BlipTrack helps ensure that passengers experience a quick and easy passage through this stage of the journey, and significantly increase the opportunity for a positive experience throughout the airport.”
Airport Director at Bergen Airport
“With BlipTrack we have coverage at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, enabling us to use service level agreements more fairly—not just over selected periods. This rapid information allows us to take fast, proactive measures before the situation escalates.”
Head of Operations Support at Bristol Airport
“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.”
Manager - Passenger & Terminal Operations at Auckland International Airport Limited
”BlipTrack helps us identify how passengers move through and use the airport, from the time they park, when they leave, and everywhere in between. It enables us to look for patterns through the day/week, to see the impact of the various actions we implement, to reduce bottlenecks and wait time for our passengers.”
CEO at Billund Airport.
“We value the long-term cooperation and their professional approach in providing us with technology and data to ensure efficient operations and passenger satisfaction.”
Lars Erik Flatner
Head of ICT Portfolio at Avinor.
“The team are a credit to the organisation and have helped the airport immensely, with data analysis and reporting.”
Head of Terminal Operations at Birmingham International Airport
“We had very high expectations prior to the introduction of the system, and I am very happy to say that the outcome has proved very successful. The system has capabilities of further enhancements which will provide other long-term solutions in the future.”
Operations Director at Bristol Airport
“With BlipTrack we can keep our passengers fully informed 24/7 – both in the airport terminal and online – about what to expect at the security process. At peak times, over 3,000 passengers an hour travel through security, and our aim is to make that experience as smooth as possible whilst ensuring safety – BlipTrack helps us do that.”
Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Airport
“BlipTrack has helped identify time periods where passenger wait times exceed 10 minutes, thereby allowing us to assess schedule deficiencies and taxi dispatches. The data has greatly helped improve the customer experience by providing us the ability to schedule taxis to be available when needed.”
David J. Boenitz
Director of Ground Transportation at San Diego International Airport.
“BlipTrack enable us to see when levels of service are breached and locate the reasons. We can identify work shift problems and make more informed decisions.”
Guðmundur Karl Gautason
Manager – Operation Research at Keflavik Airport.
“With BlipTrack, we can see where the flow of visitors 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.
Strategic Advisor & Innovator at Royal HaskoningDHV
BlipTrack has provided us with powerful tools which have allowed us to gain a good understanding of the security check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”
Project Manager Landside Operations at Genève Aéroport
“The solution 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 has helped us to resource our operations on-the-day and to identify pinch points and potential build ups. The very accurate data 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 insights into passenger processes. The insights are used to continuously improve our performance together with our stakeholders.
Martijn Van Boxtel
Operational Manager Terminal Logistics at Schiphol Group
“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
Chief Innovation Officer at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
“With the automatic BlipTrack measurings, we now know precisely how many passengers to expect at the passport control at specific hours, and based on that we can reduce tailbacks.”
Kaj Lykke Majlund
Commanding Police Officer at Copenhagen Airport
“Bliptrack enables us to continually refine, evaluate and improve key operational processes.” Read more
Contract Manager at Oslo Airport
“BlipTrack has given us a dynamic and valid tool to document our performance against service level agreements, and also to ensure that the right numbers of staff are in the right place, at the right time, for our passengers.” Read more
ATM Policy and Planning Manager at Manchester Airport
“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
“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 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 gives us a clear picture of passenger movements, allowing us to provide the best customer service and proactively manage service levels before any issues arise.”
Head of Customer Care at Milano Malpensa Airport
“BlipTrack has proven quite successful. It has enabled CVG to continue our close collaboration with TSA to ensure that the passenger experience is one that enhances the journey experience not detracts from it.”
CEO at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport