What are airport passenger tracking systems and why do they matter?

Airports need to be able to process high volumes of people safely and quickly. Priorities include ensuring that passengers get to their flights on time, maintaining social distance, and avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks in people flow.

However, achieving these goals is challenging. On-the-ground staff is not always able to coordinate passengers as they move between baggage handling, security, and flight gates.

Passenger tracking systems aim to alleviate this pressure. They offer a birds’ eye view of what’s happening on the ground, providing airport operations with far greater oversight.

How passenger tracking systems work

Passenger tracking systems operate anonymously. As passengers make their way through the airport, cameras combined with machine learning software count individual people, giving operators real-time data on where passengers are in the airport. Some airports use ceiling-mounted sensors.

These systems then feed data through to dashboards that provide key performance metrics that concern airport operators. These include waiting times, the length of time required to process an individual passenger, and the volume of passengers making their way through the terminal.

The hope is that by using these sensors and metrics, airports will be able to quickly find congested areas and remove bottlenecks. They want to provide passengers with a more seamless experience as they go from one part of the airport to another. Passenger and terminal operations should improve markedly versus airports not instituting such systems.

Trialing new systems

Passenger tracking systems are currently being tested across the globe. Delhi International Airport for instance is now investing in a system that will allow for the better movement of passengers as they make their way from drop-off areas to flight gates.

Part of the motivation is to assist with social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. Airport operators are trying to find ways to minimize the risk of infected people spreading the disease to other passengers in flight.

Airports are also attempting to upgrade their services now that travel around the globe is returning to normal. Many operators see passenger tracking systems as a tool to reinvigorate the industry and offer their customers a better service. Avoiding long queues and improving the flow of people will enhance the experience and, hopefully, lead to more travel in the future.

Why passenger tracking systems are so important

Passenger tracking is not about identifying each individual that passes through airports and confirming their identity. Instead, it is simply concerned with the flow of people and ensuring that they get to their destinations on time. Avoiding bottlenecks is key.

Here are some of the advantages of implementing such systems for airport operators:

It reduces waiting times
When used properly, passenger tracking systems have the ability to reduce wait times at baggage handling, security, and other parts of the customer journey. Operators can use real-time tracking information and analytics to post more staff at these checkpoints, ensuring a higher flow of people.

It reduces the spread of COVID-19

Passenger tracking system developers also believe that it has the potential to reduce the spread of infection. Airports can use solutions to prevent the buildup of large crowds of people in lobbies and airport gates where transmission risk is highest.

It improves the customer experience

Lastly, airport operators can use these systems to create brand loyalty. Passengers appreciate quick check-ins and seamless movement from one area of the airport to another. It’s a way for operators to differentiate themselves from their rivals.