AIRPORT FLOW

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AIRPORT
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OVERVIEW

Airport operational models are continuously changing to cope with emerging efficiency requirements and growing needs on non aeronautical revenues.

Passenger queues in airport terminals are becoming one of the most relevant barrier to deliver high quality services and maximize resource efficiency, in a scenario where passenger traffic is increasing and security procedures are more and more stringent.The ability to measure, evaluate, monitor and forecast queues behavior at each stage of the passenger journey is of paramount importance to enabling efficient airport operations.

AirportFlow is a solution designed by Software Design to provide airports with historical analysis and real time accurate intelligence on passenger flows and queue models.AirportFlow intends to represent a comprehensive solution really flexible and modular both in terms of technologies enabling pax tracking and tools to generate ready to use data for any external solution aimed at optimize resources and services.

Using all available data sources and technologies at the airport, AirportFlow platform helps operational managers to monitor and proactively manage queues in real time across their terminals. As passengers walk through the terminal, a series of specialized data acquisition blades gather pax data and store them in a central repository. Data acquisition blade is the driving concept enabling any airport to access pax flow tracking benefits without big investments on infrastructure. This approach lets customers choose from a large number of options to build their solution.

AirportFlow can start just tracking pax at checkin and security gates and go ahead up to wifi massive tracking.At any time all acquired data are fused and ready-to-use models are provided to ensure a complete picture of terminal operations. AirportFlow has the ability to support both real time application with online data and strategic planning solution with pax flow models enabling never seen quality and precision of resource allocation task at any stage.

Airport Flow Manager suite is composed of the following modules:

  • Embedded Data Acquisition Blades, aimed at capturing flow data related to each operational step composing the flight process.
  • Data Acquisition & Fusion managing data captured from the several data acquisition blades to provide both raw data and meta data.
  • Pax Flow Forecast allowing on demand generation of passenger flow curves.

Moreover, AOSnice portfolio makes available Pax Services applications acting even as Data Acquisition Blades which can improve tracking ability :

  • FastTrack & VipLounge module devoted to support booking and management of FastTrack and VipLounge ancillary services
  • ShopView module aimed at integrating shop cashes in an airport network to get pax data and purchase transactions to evaluate shop revenues versus airport royalties agreements
  • AirportCommerce module aimed at booking and managing all parking places together with other airport ancillary services
  • Kiss&Fly aimed at showing the expected crossing time for security boarding on dedicated screens at the entrance of the security area.

BENEFITS

Airport Flow Manager inherits all the technical and technological characteristics of the integrated framework AOSNice, and it particularly brings a lot of benefits to all airport stakeholders and passengers : 

  • monitoring of passenger flows in real time 
  • real time forecast of passenger flow curves
  • generation of specialised flight forecasting curves based on historical data
  • optimization of airport infrastructure resources
  • optimization of human resources allocated to pax services
  • support airport business applications with passenger flow data enabling revenue analysis and forecasting’p

SOLUTION COMPONENTS

EMBEDDED DATA ACQUISITION BLADE

Embedded data acquisition blades support AirportFlow platform acquiring data coming from basic flow points strictly related to the flight process management.
Currently tracked points are :

  • Checkin Counters
  • Boarding Gates
  • Security pre-filters
  •  Security Gates

At checkin counters, a specialized printer probe has in charge the acquisition of the boarding card during the printing phase. Captured data are parsed and stored together with the time stamp.
At the boarding gates, a specialized probe has in charge the acquisition of the boarding card during the read phase. Captured data are parsed and stored together with the time stamp.
In order to match procedures existing in all sorts of airports, the boarding gate passages can be captured in a massive way by declaring as “passed” all the passengers detected at security gates on the boarding closure time.
At Security pre-filters and Security gates, using tablet devices provided by Software design, boarding cards are read by a 2D scanner and checked with current flights and matching status shown with chromatic logics. Captured data are parsed and stored together with the time stamp.

The tablet used is very friendly and unobtrusive simplifying security operators activities ensuring automatic checks versus updated flight data. The device looks like what shown in next figure even if some levels of configurations can be done to better match  the needs coming from several check points and several airports.

Three different approaches can be put in place at the entrance of security area :
  • Light solution based on mobile devices in charge at dedicated personnel to check boarding cards
  • intermediate solutions based on fixed mounted tablet to be used by dedicated personnel to check boarding cards
  • completely unattended solution exploiting self-boarding gates.

Self-Boarding Gates not only reduce the amount of Gate agents required at the boarding gate or being able to have the gate agents focus on other items like excess hand luggage or more but also improves on time performance and reducing stand occupancy times. This is achieved by a very efficient boarding process with little agent involvement in order to ensure that passenger can be processed through the boarding gate quicker and in a more relaxing environment.
 
WiFi Tracking

AirportFlow can be extended with to exploit the power of Wifi sensors capturing mobile devices presence enabling. In such a way the system can ensure a passive counting of passengers in specific areas and related waiting times.

Software Design uses sophisticated algorithms to create white list of staff devices in order to filter meaningless data. Using wifi sensors high reliable values regarding the waiting time in areas where SLA are set toward passengers can automatically be calculated.

To improve the position deduced by the RSSI technique, a fingerprint of the zone is also used, that is a calibration made through a specific application.

The system stores data on a repository and is able to present heat maps that are updated cyclically.

DATA STORAGE & FUSION

All available Data Acquisition Blades are supported by central services aimed at allowing data capture and storage.
This module exposes services to allow a standardized way to provide data capture, where flow data treated are documented by a common dictionary. 
This module is composed of the following components :

  • Data Acquisition Services
  • Data Fusion Services

Data acquisition services are elementary services to be used by Data Acquisition Blades to communicate any tracking event together with tracked point and pax.
All data are stored safeguarding privacy duties and allowing restricted access to unauthorized personnel.
After storing, raw data are analyzed to create easy-to-use meta data. In particular, following aggregations are now available :

  • single pax profile
  • checkin profile per flight including checkin counters data, web checkin data, self checkin data
  • carrier profile per check point
  • Airport area profile per timeframe
  • Destination profile 

 External applications can obtain raw data and fused data by exploiting Data access services.

PAXFLOW FORECAST

In order to predict and plan resources allocations, regardless wether the objective is carried out manually or using an IT tool, it is mandatory to build the analysis on forecasted data. Most important data are flight programmes, service contracts, labour contracts and mainly historical data related to loads. Airports spend most of their efforts in human labour, that in turn is strictly connected to aircraft loads. This means that the availability of reliable historical data is a fundamental key point to ensure good levels of resource planning optimization.  
In particular, pax flow curves have impacts on most of critical services such as checkin, gate, security. At the moment, airports use few presentation curves that are very often too much raw and distant from changing habits of passengers.
Software Design has in the AOSnice portfolio a module aimed at providing flight data forecasting working on historical data and match criteria. Pax Flow Forecasting represents a set of additional services of the Flight Forecasting capabilities able to automatically generate presentation curves analyzing all tracked points. In such a way the system can provide :
  • Domestic/International Curves 
  • Destination Curves 
  • Airline Curves 
  • Flight specific Curves 
Resource planning systems can leverage on so fine curves to increase reliability of planning results. Curves can be used both for long term planning and for real time allocation. In the latter case on line curves can be used to forecast the next flow behavior allowing to discover next criticalities and put in place corrective actions.

CONSUMER APPLICATIONS

All tracking data can be used by external systems, named Consumer Applications, that can improve their performances leveraging on tracking and forecasted data. Some examples of Consumer application currently available within AOSnice platform are :
  • ResourceBrain-Human&Mobile : planning and management of human and mobile resources
  • ResourceBrain-Fixed : planning and management of airport infrastructure
  • Kiss&Fly : aimed at showing the expected crossing time for security boarding on dedicated screens at the entrance of the security area. 
  • airport Business Intelligence : airport data analysis layered on a number of specialised datamarts such as flights, parking, services, etc.
  • planning systems can exploit information related to passenger flows to better evaluate resources needed for pax services.
Kiss&Fly system working on the number of pax entering and exiting from the security area can evaluate passengers currently in the area and then the expected waiting time in the queue.
Using flow data specialized data analysis can continuously calculate waiting times and check them with respect to Service Level Agreements defined. 

PAX SERVICES BLADES

AOSnice portfolio makes available Pax Services applications acting even as Data Acquisition Blades which can improve tracking ability :
  • FastTrack & VipLounge module devoted to support booking and management of FastTrack and VipLounge ancillary services. Special passengers can improve their journey experience reducing wait times at security filters and using Vip Lounge services. Such services can be purchased through local kiosks or internet. In the airport, operators supported by tablet devices will automatically check the purchase title, simplifying pax check operations and  more at the same tracking the passenger.
  • ShopView module integrates shop cashes in an airport network to get pax data and purchase transactions to evaluate shop revenues versus airport royalties agreements. Of course cash key points are really interesting to get pax tracking profiles when they are in the pre-boarding stage of the flight process.
  •  AirportPark module aimed at booking and managing all the car parking places. Passengers can book a place through the internet and can then be traced when they enter in the car park. Even if this tracking is cumulative, it can be used to analyse parking revenues with respect to flights.
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