Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) with local Transportation Security Administration (TSA) collaboration is using live and empiric data to identify irregularities at the security checkpoint. Thanks to BlipTrack technology, this recently awarded Skytrax best world airport serving 5-10 million passengers is experiencing better resource utilisation and smoother passenger processing.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International airport, the fastest-growing major airport in the US, with a whopping 17 percent year-over-year passenger increase, achieved in 2017 its best ranking in the 22-year history of the U.S. Department of Transportation airfare report. It also experienced its highest passenger traffic volume since 2005, with almost eight million passengers passing through this international transport hub.

To keep the passenger experience positive, even as carrier and traveller numbers continue to rise, the airport implemented BlipTrack queue and flow technology at TSA checkpoints during 2014. The airport was the first in the United States to utilise this solution, which allows them to measure, understand and improve the traveller experience, and to better plan and allocate resources in cooperation with TSA.

Wait times cut by a third!

After only one year of use, the airport was in a position to announce that, due to the data they had gathered using BlipTrack, they had successfully reduced TSA security line wait times by one third. Nearly four minutes from 13.2 minutes to 8.9 minutes.

In 2016, the TSA grabbed headlines across the country as passengers slogged through frustratingly slow-moving lines.

"Fortunately, CVG did not experience extensive queue times during the 2016 peak summer travel season as other airports across the country clamoured for adjustments and lobbied for additional TSA staffing," says Mindy Kershner, Sr. Manager, Public & Government Affairs at CVG. "We demonstrated more efficient scheduling, via predictive analytics, which negated the immediate need for staffing increases."

“Before BlipTrack, our peak wait times were 45 minutes and higher. Now, our peak wait times are beneath 30 minutes, with the average wait times well below 15 minutes for general security and below five minutes for PreCheck,” says Brian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Experience at CVG.

Wait time information eases passengers´minds

Since then, the airport has gradually expanded the solution and added new features to help streamline operations further and continue improving the passenger experience. Passenger-facing wait time monitors and CVGairport.com interfaces provide immediate wait-time status, easing natural travel anxieties associated with queue lines and setting realistic expectations.

“Much of our interest in the public display of wait times was to dispel perception from reality. As the adage goes, ask five people what their actual wait time was, and you’ll get five different answers. This is only compounded by the anxiety-ridden security experience and heightened customer sensitivities. What we found to be true pre- and post-deployment was an immediate positive impact on social media, specifically Twitter. Tweets regarding security queue wait times were the number one targeted complaint. For those customers that engaged and willingly shared more information via direct message (DM), we were able to track them from entry to exit and confirm via video their actual wait times; we impressed these customers by separating their general frustration with the process versus actual (minimal) wait times. Subsequently, this supported the need to move forward with public-facing displays, including publishing in real-time on our website. Post-monitor deployment three-plus years ago, queue complaints are now rare as the customer immediately understands the present situation and adapts. More importantly, positive tweets regarding queues are more the norm. We’re once again empowering the customer to make educated decisions; for those that can afford to dwell longer at shops and concessions, they opt to continue their shopping/dining experience until the wait has diminished,” says Brian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Experience at CVG.

Utilizing data to align TSA schedules

Additionally, CVG has gone so far as to establish service level agreement (SLA)-like standards for self-accountability, ensuring average wait times below 15 minutes are consistently delivered. For the second quarter ending June 2017, the average wait time for expedited screening registered at 11min28sec. It is somewhat significant given CVG’s surge in peak-day checkpoint throughput from 10,000 to over 15,000 during the same period.

Stephen Saunders, Senior Manager of Terminal Operations at CVG explains: “We have added a new feature that allows us to understand the pattern of how lanes are being utilised throughout the day. This helps us better understand TSA’s lane utilisation on any given day. Our future goal is to pair this information with passenger show-up profiles and wait-time inputs to complete a story of how the checkpoint is operating as a whole and help the TSA develop lane open/close plans based on predicted throughputs. We have used tangible data to work with our partners at TSA to adjust officer start time. We previously noticed a high spike in queue waits during our heaviest early bank of morning flights, levelling off after about 7:30. We collectively identified TSA schedules were misaligned with the flight schedules. Later security lane openings by as little as 15 minutes were incapable of catching up to and meeting the passenger demand surge. Because of this data, we recommended staffing adjustments to the local TSA leaders, which ultimately passengers and airlines benefited as evidenced by a near-immediate reduction in wait times below target and customer compliments via the Airport’s social media platforms. We remain engaged with TSA HQ in an attempt to collaborate to make real changes using this technology.”

Expanding the solution to maximise revenue

CVG and Veovo, BlipTrack are working together to expand the solution to the outside of the terminal and throughout the airport grounds, to amplify the passenger experience. CVG is hopeful to gain a better understanding of improved parking data analysis to discover whether more passengers are using off-site competitor parking lots, and show where passengers dwell once inside their facilities.BlipTrack flow management solutionBrian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Experience at CVG, elaborates that it helps them both target their marketing and better compete in an area where the race for passengers is fierce.

"It's the "old real estate adage of 'location, location, location," says Cobb, explaining how the data could point to where the busiest parts of the terminal are and may be the best location for a new restaurant or retailer."

“Our hope would be to expand the BlipTrack technology throughout the airport, to better understand the passenger journey from start to finish, well beyond the security checkpoint. Once we better understand the passenger journey, we can make strategic decisions, to better utilise our facilities. This allows us to demonstrate to our passengers the ease of use of our facilities and can help in calming their travel anxieties. Our goal is to use the data to create an unforgettably positive passenger experience,” ends Stephen Saunders.

“Our use of the technology 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. Our significant investments in our facilities and the solution ensures we use them as effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Candace McGraw, CEO at CVG.

The implementation of BlipTrack will help to 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.”

Øystein Skaar

Airport Director at Bergen Airport

With BlipTrack we have coverage at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can record information more consistently, 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.”

Phil Holder

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.”

Mark Croudace

Manager - Passenger & Terminal Operations at Auckland International Airport Limited

”BlipTrack helps us to identify how passengers move through and use the airport, from the time they park, to 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 the passengers.”

Jan Hessellund

CEO at Billund Airport.

“Avinor has used the BlipTrack solution since 2009. 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.

“It´s been an excellent project with great support from the design, installation and technical team. The team behind BlipTrack are a credit to the organisation and have helped the airport immensely, with data analysis and reporting.”

Chris Wilson

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.”

Paul Davies

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.”

Adrian Witherow

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. It helps us identify work shift problems and to make more informed decisions.”

Guðmundur Karl Gautason

Manager – Operation Research at Keflavik Airport.

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.”

Anita Filli

Project Manager Landside Operations at Genève Aéroport

“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.

Esben Kolind

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 is used by our staff to monitor operations, and has enabled us to provide an optimum passenger experience by displaying accurate queue wait times.”

John Seely

Technology Projects Manager at Dublin Airport Operations

“BlipTrack provides us with valuable insights in 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

Brian Cobb

Vice President, Customer Experience 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

Bjorg Hill

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

Rick Mernock

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

Ward Decaluwé

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

Daryl Jameson

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.”

Giorgio Medici

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.”

Candace McGraw

CEO at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport