Airports of the future will be "experience centers" deeply integrated into Smart Societies, a movement already advancing thanks in part to increased competition among airlines. The evolution toward truly connected terminal spaces that are something more than transit centers with retail offerings is accelerating with the help of solutions that are taking the stress out of air travel.
Already shaped by dramatic shifts in passenger volumes and expectations, the aviation industry is looking to bounce back from recent, unprecedented challenges not only stronger but also more intelligent. That transition is being helped in some regions, particularly in the US, by government-backed initiatives to modernize infrastructure. But private stakeholders that need an adequate return on investment are also propelling changes.
Data and signage
"Using sensors and Xovis style data solves a lot of problems for both the airport and the passengers. As a passenger, being able to see real-time data makes me feel more comfortable. For airport operators, it helps them understand passenger flow and gives them a level of flexibility so they can move people around quicker," Todd Alan Green, Global Manager, Airports, with Nanolumens, a leading LED display manufacturer, said recently.
It is generally agreed that capturing accurate, real-time data is key to modernizing airports. Capturing precise and objective data from as many touchpoints as possible within a terminal is one of the best ways for an airport to plan and respond. But operators must also enlist passengers to help improve efficiency, cooperation that is easily achieved by keeping travelers informed about issues that have a bearing on their mental state.
Put simply: Limiting the number of unknowns helps assure passengers, which in turn helps operators optimize terminal operations. Keeping passengers informed of changing situations via dynamic airport signage is a simple way of promoting wayfinding and self-balancing without increasing workloads for finite labor resources.
Operators regularly work with significant volumes of data about different processes, much of which is exclusively for the teams that keep the airport functioning and is not communicated to passengers. For example, an airport's customer experience specialist may receive customized alerts from Xovis' Passenger Flow Management System (PFMS) about when a queue risks disrupting passenger flow. He or she may make adjustments without informing queuing passengers of the change.
More than 100 airports already use a Xovis PFMS for this exact purpose. But more airport operators are also realizing the efficiency gains they can realize by combining data from the system with high-quality customer-facing technology.
It's a sign!
Most readers are probably old enough to remember the era of the split-flap display, which, until quite recently, was the most prominent signage type at various transit terminals, including airports and train stations. Those have, thankfully, been replaced by digital signage able to display more relevant details and respond more quickly to changes.
Travelers may miss the distinctive "clack" split-flap displays made when changing, but most have fully embraced digital signage because it limits stress by keeping them better informed—of where they need to be and when, and, more frequently, the best option for getting there.
For Green, from Nanolumens, airports around the world are embracing longer-lasting, passenger-facing technology because they see the value of helping people travel stress-free. "Creating a story and giving you information is actually part of the fun," he said of terminal displays, adding, "Everything from wayfinding to flexibility, that's where dynamic displays come in. That type of stuff really reduces stress, and that is where the market is moving."
Tags: | digital signage | airport | people counting | operators | passenger |