Airport IoT Operations
Intelligent devices taking off fueled by AI
- By Hartmut Schaper
- Mar 01, 2020
The Internet of Things
(IoT) has landed in airport
operations. More than 20
billion end devices are already
networked via the
Internet, and there will likely be three
times more than this by 2025, according to
Statista. In the process, end devices are becoming
increasingly more intelligent and
efficient, fueled by progress being made in
artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning
and even 5G—the new mobile phone
technology—which creates the required
bandwidths for data transfer in the IoT.
All of this adds up to huge potential for
environments such as airports. The deployment
of IoT cameras provides increased
security and allows users to better understand
the behavior of passengers. Based on
video analyses in real time, operations can
The current focus of spending on IoT
projects centers on the use of cameras.
However, a study carried out by Cisco determined
three out of every four projects
would fail. The reason? Many investments
fall short of the mark because traditional
thinking in IoT is very one dimensional: although
cameras are being networked, their
potential to optimize operations remains
untapped. The key to tapping into this potential
lies in finding the optimal synergy
between end devices, platforms and applications
in the IoT, or “IoT Excellence.”
IoT-enabled cameras help their users
gain a greater understanding of how
passengers and employees behave. This
knowledge opens up new opportunities
for optimizing processes and reducing
downtime. Consider a few examples of
how the IoT makes passenger transport
more secure—particularly in airports—
but also more efficient.
Smart Security Cameras
Artificial intelligence and higher computing
power create new application possibilities
for cameras in the IoT. Today, complex
applications such as video analyses
or AI-based facial recognition can run
directly on the camera.
A security camera in the airport not
only provides video data, but it also compares
this data—in real time—with images
in databases. Patterns of movement
by travelers entering and exiting airport
facilities, and passengers within the terminals
can be detected and then interpreted
Increased Security and
Efficiency at Airports
Airports have to check in growing numbers
of passengers while also guaranteeing
high security standards. IoT applications
for security cameras can provide support
by optimizing operations in these areas:
- Automatic facial recognition means
people who are wanted by the police
can be detected, increasing security at
- Security cameras can analyze and control
visitor flow using smart displays.
Passengers are kept informed—in real
time—about waiting times and any operational
- Camera systems in air traffic control
towers analyze irregularities on the
runways and inform the airport management
team. New technologies guarantee
optimal visibility—even at night
or in poor weather conditions.
- By linking to other data sources such
as weather data, traffic data and flight
bookings, the systems can create intelligent
forecasts about potential operational
- Video analyses can be used for the
early detection of suspicious behavior,
whether by employees in sensitive
areas for which they aren’t responsible,
or passengers behaving in an unusual
- Security staff can use the camera system
to follow suspicious people throughout
the entire airport in real time.
- The theft of luggage or other items can be detected and prevented.
- Unattended luggage can be discovered and investigated by security
staff more quickly.
Airports are complex environments, and not every concern
relates to passenger flow. Beyond flight-related concerns, airports
are also large retail centers, and IoT applications for cameras can
be applied in these settings as well. Analysis of shopper behaviors
can help manage queues at shops and overall movement within
the retail area .
Before people even enter the terminal, cameras can also provide
license plate recognition, collect data on vehicle accidents and alert
security to abnormal or suspicious behavior on airport grounds.
Optimizing Waiting Times
at Major Airports
One frequent bottleneck at airports are security checkpoints, which
can easily cause long waiting times and operational irregularities.
This can frustrate passengers and increase the workload of staff
members. For this reason, many airports use camera systems to
monitor the number of visitors. If a queue becomes too long, the
system informs staff or provides this information via displays.
At one of Europe’s major airports, operations staff have implemented
intelligent visitor management using an existing camera
system. Video data is analyzed in real time, meaning waiting
times can be predicted with 96 percent accuracy. The predicted
waiting times are communicated via displays to control visitor
flows. The result? An improved customer experience, increased
security and more effective planning of personnel deployment.
The digital networking of camera systems offers the opportunity
to improve how resources are used, to design
processes more efficiently, to reduce costs
and, ultimately, to raise the level of the experience
for everyone involved.
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Security Today.