Indy Airport Using LiDAR To Assess TSA Screening Times And Push Info To Screens

April 4, 2019 by Dave Haynes

The Indianapolis Airport Authority is activating a system that uses LiDAR-driven motion analytics to monitor and assess  passenger queuing conditions at security checkpoints, and automatically push real-time updates on wait times to digital signage screens.

“It’s all about the customer experience,” says Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez. “That’s our primary goal, and the wait time calculators are the latest addition to a range of technology the airport and its partners offer to enhance the travel experience, such as fast-access Wi-Fi, self-bag tag kiosks and even human-powered charging stations.”

The airport set a new record for passenger traffic in 2018, exceeding 9.4 million passengers. That was driven by big jumps in international flights and flights to the U.S. West Coast. More passengers tends to mean longer lines at screening – see Atlanta, O’Hare and SFO.

The airport is working with the Anaheim, CA motion analytics firm iinside, which uses the 3D imaging technology LiDAR. If you have been in a self-driving car (had a right last week in Las Vegas!), LiDAR is the primary tech being used to scan the road and surroundings.

Says an iinside press release on the Indy airport deal:

Through real-time visibility into passenger behavior and predictive analytics, airport managers can mitigate foot traffic bottlenecks and optimize storefront retail sales. LiDAR uses safe, invisible laser beams to detect objects both in motion and at rest, and is more accurate than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-based indoor location technology, and better at safeguarding passenger identities than stereoscopic cameras.

TSA checkpoint wait time information will be presented to IND passengers in the terminal on the airport’s network of Flight Information Displays (FIDs) and new-state-of-the-art LED digital signage being installed in Civic Plaza. In addition to informing airport passengers of wait times on FID displays, the data from iinside will also be published on the airport’s website to give travelers valuable information before they arrive at the airport.

With the ability to forecast security checkpoint delays and estimate time-to-gate journeys, airports and other third-part travel data providers, such as ride shares and airlines, can reduce traveler stress and build satisfaction by providing wait time notices or fastest curb-to-gate recommendations.

“Indianapolis International Airport is providing tremendous value to its passengers by capturing real-time insight into how foot traffic is flowing through the facility,” says Sam Kamel, President and CEO of iinside. “Sharing those insights with travelers can greatly improve their airport experience. Instead of being delayed by long security wait lines, travelers would know in advance to leave home early, or be informed of the quickest checkpoint.”

Airports are full of cameras, and the whole idea of security checkpoints is to elevate passenger safety, so the idea that LiDAR is “better at safeguarding passenger identities than stereoscopic cameras” seems like an empty argument against using anonymous video analytics systems. However, those systems are based – usually – on pattern detection of faces, and LiDAR may well be a better way to come up with the density and head-counts of screening lines.

Whatever gets used, it is valuable information for digital screens around airport terminals and, in some cases, bad news for travelers. No one wants to see there is a 45-minute wait time to get through screening, but if there are two screening points at a big airport, knowing one is 15-minutes and the other is 40 will load-balance the two and speed up the waits for one group.

This has some similarities to what Wait Time does in sports and entertainment venues.

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