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Examining the airport state of mind and the solutions operators need now

Examining the airport state of mind and the solutions operators need now
This note examines what state airports are currently in and what solutions they need to address certain challenges.
In the wake of the pandemic, airports are experiencing something unprecedented, with passenger traffic hitting a low and various health requirements put in place. This note examines what state airports are currently in and what solutions they need to address certain challenges.
The pandemic has reduced air travel in a way unseen in decades. Consider the following statistics from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On February 22, passenger throughput at TSA checkpoints was 963,280, compared to 2.27 million on the same day in 2020 and 2.3 million in 2019. On December 31 of 2020, passenger throughput was 874,406, compared to 2.4 million for the same day on 2019.
Inevitably, this has created a strong impact on airports around the globe and forced them to re-focus and rethink strategy to stay afloat. Some for example have closed down certain buildings and terminals to reduce cost. Some are expanding cargo services to make up for losses from passenger traffic. Some, meanwhile, are using this unprecedented time to upgrade their systems. Either way, they are bound by one common objective. “One thing every airport has in common is the safety of their passengers and ensuring that they have a positive experience in a safe environment, so travel confidence can be re-built,” said Giovanni Taccori, Commercial Lead of Transportation for APAC at Genetec.

Challenges facing airports

During this difficult period, airports are still faced with the need to keep security and operations efficiency on par. However when it comes to challenges, none compares with the need to comply with health and safety guidelines and requirements put in place to ensure the physical well-being of staff and passengers.

"Genetec recently hosted an airport roundtable with airport leaders from around the globe. One of the main challenges they are facing right now is the ability to adapt and keep up with the constant changes in government regulations and policies. Being able to implement these changes while keeping their employees up to date with the latest procedures has been a struggle,” Taccori said. “They also talked about their predicament when deciding on the amount of investment that should go into finding solution to the challenges created by the health crisis. They worry that they might be investing into unproven and short lived technologies.”

Solutions that can help

The fact, today's security systems mostly come with disease prevention and control functions to meet user needs in this area. To meet compliance, airports need look no further than security systems that they are already familiar with. These include the following.

Airport-specific analytics

Analytics have long helped with capacity and people flow control for airports seeking to provide a good user experience in various areas including arrival/departure halls, duty-free shops and restaurants. Now they also play a key role in COVID-related compliance. “The Passenger Flow Analytics module was originally used to pinpoint and predict hindrance to the flow of passengers in different areas of the airport and to identify where wait lines build. It has since been further enhanced to adapt to the current situation by leveraging LiDAR technology to provide airports with physical distancing information on areas in their airport so they can take corrective hygiene measures accordingly,” Taccori said.

[How LiDAR can help airports during the pandemic]

Access control

Access control ensures critical areas in airports are not accessed by intruders or potential terrorists. Now access control can play a role in compliance as well. “The Boarding Route Management module automates boarding/deplaning procedures and ensures proper passenger segregation. This helps improve the common use of infrastructure like gate sharing for domestic and international flights,” Taccori said. “Airports are currently adapting this solution to differentiate flights coming from low risk COVID-19 countries and flights coming from places where the pandemic is still critical. So, when a flight lands, passengers are redirected to different areas within the airport through the different routes that can be configured by automatically opening/closing multiple doors to shape the passenger’s path. This is made possible by leveraging the Genetec access control system, Synergis.”

Unified platform

Finally, security is still a major concern for airports especially at a time when terminals are shut down and empty. In this sense operators can turn to a unified platform better streamline workflow and enhance efficiency. “Implementing a unified physical security system with one intuitive user interface, instead of disparate systems that were once standalone, allows airport administrators to be in sync and enhance communication through live location tracking, built-in messaging, one-click video streaming and archive sharing,” Taccori said.
Genetec, already strong in the airport vertical, was recently selected by Singapore’s Changi Airport to enhance and upgrade its security system. “Changi is not in a position to share any more details of their installation at the moment. Having said that, there are multiple reasons why airports customers tend to choose our solutions over others,” Taccori noted.

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