Imagine a travel experience in which passengers are able to navigate airports at warp speed, making their connections and arriving on time, every time — safely and hassle-free. Across the country, this is becoming a reality as airports implement new, more efficient technologies that streamline the passenger experience.

From California to New York, Florida to Oregon, airports are developing strategies for the future of air travel, including designing and building world-class terminals that deliver the ultimate passenger experience.

Using Technology to Build Better Passenger Experiences

Behind the scenes at every airport exists a complex, interconnected system of hardware and software networks made up of miles of copper and fiber-optic cable. And while this isn’t visible to the everyday traveler, these systems are tightly interwoven with the passenger experience — especially on the ground level with self-service kiosks, bag drops and digital wayfinding signage.

To the untrained eye, these extensive systems might look more like a tangled mess than highly effective web technology; but this advanced technology is fundamental to making the physical, logistical and mechanical components of an airport operate efficiently and successfully.

Integration among systems is key, helping airports make better, more informed decisions based on data collected in real time. By integrating special systems and data, airports are primed to develop strategies for improving their aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues through technology, providing them with exactly what they need: safe, secure, convenient — and consistent — systems.

Shaping the Future of Air Travel

When looking to develop the right mix of efficient technologies, airports must meet Department of Homeland Security and Congress’s national requirements for increased security. These mandates, administered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are part of incremental improvements and capital investment programs designed to bolster overall airport security, providing travelers with a safe and secure journey from curb to plane — including improved passenger and baggage screenings.

Among the latest technologies is an approach to screening that divides passengers into risk categories based on personal information. Smart Security, a joint program of the International Air Transport Association and Airports Council International, designed the system to respond to growth in air travel, continuously evolving security threats, and passengers being increasingly dissatisfied with lines.

Airports are also considering detector corridors that use biometric and biomedical data to screen passengers for liquids, explosives and other TSA requirements. Meanwhile, some airports are already operating with one-stop shop kiosk check-ins and bag drops that use microchips to track passengers’ belongings.

The introduction and ever-increasing use of these kiosk-based, self-service options — including those used in ticketing, check-in, bag drop, security and boarding — has led to nothing short of a revolution in the design and use of the associated spaces. Airports can maximize revenue through efficient combination of self-service technology and retail space while lowering operating costs.

Integrating Airports with the Internet of Things

With innovative technology and enhanced security systems, air travel continues to evolve. And while security remains a major factor worldwide, airports are increasingly focused on providing the ultimate passenger experience by using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

The IoT is a colossal network of people, information and ideas, all connected to the internet with the ability to share data. Those devices can range from your personal exercise device, mobile phone and home security system to your light dimmers and washing machine.

From sensors tracking pets to microchipped baggage tags — as well as mobile apps guiding travelers through terminals — airports, operators, airlines and aviation manufacturers are already improving passenger service.

IoT devices that monitor environmental conditions are boosting operational efficiency and saving money, while sensors on baggage equipment and building systems are flagging potential mechanical issues before they create problems.

The downside? The potential for cybersecurity threats. This generation of devices puts a strain on airports to design networks that support the IoT and the tsunami of data it generates. This makes it even more important for airports to have strong cybersecurity policies, safe and secure practices, and heightened awareness.

Interested in learning more about the integration and impact of new technologies within airports? Connect with me via LinkedIn.

Stu Garrett specializes in aviation information technology and special systems. He has more than 17 years of experience in enhancing 16 of the world’s largest airports, helping clients find new technology solutions that provide passenger convenience and operational efficiency.