Adveez and Eleven-X partner on cargo tracking for Canadian airport

Adveez and Eleven-X partner on cargo tracking for Canadian airports

Eleven-X and Adveez partner on IoT-based asset tracking solution for air cargo handling equipment.

A major Canadian airport is apparently set to pilot IoT technology to track cargo, using technology from homegrown low-power network operator Eleven-X, based in Waterloo, Ontario, and French asset tracking hardware vendor Adveez.

The LoRaWAN-based solution will enable GPS tracking of cargo handling assets, providing rapid and easy location of in-motion equipment used to transport cargo and enabling faster loading and unloading times, the companies claim.

While the Canadian airport has not been named, Adveez claims its technology has been deployed at airports across the world, “enabling enhanced location management of in-motion assets.” That said, the technology also lends itself to other kinds of deployments, from construction sites to smart city asset management programmes.

Read more: Cargotec picks Cloudera to give data-driven services a lift

Boom time for air cargo

Air cargo is experiencing high growth right now. In the nine months to September 2017, world air freight traffic (measured in freight tonne kilometres) increased by 10.1 percent year on year, according to data from IATA [the International Air Transport Association]. The increase for the month of September, meanwhile, was 9.2 percent year on year, and it seems probable that full-year growth for 2017 will exceed IATA’s forecast of 7.5 percent.

Karim Ben Dhia, CEO at Adveez, claimed that deployment of its asset tracking solution on the Eleven-x network “will enable airlines to achieve faster turnaround times resulting in reduced delays, providing cost savings related to many aspects of cargo management.”

The company’s goal now, he added, is to provide the best asset tracking solution for airports and other major industry sectors across Canada.

Eleven-X, meanwhile, claims to operate Canada’s “first and only” coast-to-coast public low-power network and has provided the network infrastructure and coverage for Adveez’s LoRaWAN IoT Asset Tracking Module rollout in Canada.

Other airlines and airports are trying other approaches. Earlier this month, Air New Zealand Cargo announced it was also rolling out tracking technology to keep a check on cargo shipments and equipment worldwide. In partnership with Core Transport Technology, another New Zealand-based company, Air New Zealand is currently installing more than 5,500 Bluetooth tags on its containers, pallets and unit load devices, as well as on more than 100 readers at 29 airports worldwide at which it provides cargo services.

Read more: Transport companies lack skills to get the most out of IoT data

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IoT set to transform the airport experience

IoT set to transform the airport experience

IoT technologies have the potential to make air travel a smoother door-to-door ride for passengers, as Doug Drinkwater reports.

Airports are usually a terrible experience. You arrive hours early for a flight that may or may not be on time, move slowly through detailed security and pay over the odds for underwhelming food. Add to the mix crowded waiting areas, long queues and cramped seats and it’s not an experience to be anticipated with pleasure.

But could the airport experience be changing for the better? A recent Deloitte report argues that it might be, suggesting that the IoT could “increase revenue” for operators while “simultaneously improving the overall passenger experience.”

Speaking to Internet of Business, the report’s author Candice Irvin, US airline leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP, said that all parties could benefit from a reinvented customer experience.

“Many of the airport IoT examples being touted are focused on the passenger experience – biometric kiosks in customs, blue-dot indoor mapping, and so on,” she told Internet of Business.

IoT has the ability to impact both RASM [revenue per available seat mile] through a differentiated customer experience and/or new revenue streams, and CASM [cost per available seat mile] as result of greater efficiencies.  Likewise, airports have the opportunity to increase revenues and lower operating expenses.”

Internet of Business sees eight key areas where IoT could change that airport experience from beginning to end.

Stage 1: Arrival and check-in

Check-in has improved significantly over recent years, with the introduction of online check-in and speedy bag-drop processes. But more automation is coming.

For example, budget US airline JetBlue has begun using IoT to automate this process through its ‘Auto Check-in’ function. After booking, customers are automatically issued a ticket and given a seat 24 hours before take-off, without having to log onto the app or website. The seat is chosen based on data about the passenger’s preferences, and they are then sent a boarding pass.

“Today, with the technology we have, we don’t need to check you in, so we eliminated the step and our customers love it,” JetBlue CIO Eash Sundaram has said.

Stage 2: Moving through the airport

The check-in process may now be relatively painless, but the same cannot always be said of moving around airports, with passengers often getting lost and/or frustrated by long queues and overcrowding.

Again, new technology is changing that, with Bluetooth beacons, NFC tags, Wi-Fi and geolocation enabling airport operators to pinpoint passengers’ locations – and serve them relevant information, such as flight notices and product offers, at the right time.

This is already a reality across the globe:

These kinds of technologies can do much to simply reduce customer stress, says Jan Willem Kluivers, digital program manager at Air France KLM, which has used beacons and the ‘Spencer’ robot at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. 

“If we have the information at hand that we need, then we can offer a better experience and will resolve a lot of stress [customers] have,” he said at last year’s Internet of Aviation event.

Read more: Cranfield, DARTeC and the future of aviation

Stage 3: Security

Dubai International Airport was among the first airports to offer ‘smart’ security gates with automatic identification, with this system cutting waiting times for travelers waiting for immigration officers. Anyone with a machine-readable passport can simply use the ‘smart’ gate and proceed.

While such technology is becoming commonplace, Deloitte’s Irvin says there’s further potential here: “Imagine a process that starts before you even leave your house – by providing your biometric that enables you to check a bag without showing a ticket or ID, and traveling (touchless) through security as your identity and low-risk status is re-confirmed through advanced screening technologies,” she says.

“This can only be achieved through device interconnectivity and a ‘systems of systems’ approach that combines every step of the travel experience, and uses data from every step of the journey to inform a touchless screening journey.”

Stage 4: Lounge experience

Turkish Airlines is using Apple’s iBeacon technology at Istanbul Ataturk Airport’s Lounge. It is designed to work with the airline’s Sky Library application, and allows lounge guests to access the airline’s publications, as well as popular books.

This helps to create a more tailored, ‘premium’ experience, making life more comfortable for customers and generating more revenues as a result.

Stage 5: Is my flight on time?

The customer experience start smoothly, with easy passage from check-in to security and going to gate, but there is one stickler of which all passengers are aware: will the flight actually take off on time? Here, airlines are working hard in the background, says Deloitte’s Irvin.

“Some of the areas where IoT has been present the longest are in the airside operations, which many of us never see, but which we rely on to keep planes on time,” she says. “[These include] systems like ACARS [airport communications addressing and reporting systems], which include sensors on planes that automatically communicate flight status changes to air traffic control via SMS message.  

“Even air traffic control itself, as we move to GPS guidance, is turning planes into sensors – creating an Internet of Planes that is true IoT.”

Read more: Tata Comms: Airlines on digital transformation journey as IoT takes flight

Stage 6: The in-flight experience

Once you’re in the air, IoT could potentially be used to serve up a more tailored, personalized experience. Airlines could get a more accurate view of the customer’s satisfaction, possibly from sensors in seats which measure your anxiety, hydration and temperature. There’s talk, too, of using real-time and historical data to enable the cabin crew to know if you had a disruption on a connecting flight, what your food and beverage preferences are, even your preferred hotel or rental car chain.

For now, IoT in flight has been somewhat gimmicky and more than a little patchy; Qantas worked with Samsung to launch an entertainment service that uses Samsung’s Gear headset to offer a VR viewing experience, while British Airways is said to be investigating the use of ingestible sensors or ‘digital pills’ to wirelessly monitor health information inside a passenger’s body.

The idea with the latter is that the pill could assess a passenger’s wellness during flight, and to help combat jet lag by aiding their sleep, eating and exercise patterns. Whether passengers would be willing to share that information, however, is another matter. 

Stage 7: Landing and connections

In a recent blog post, Dave Bartlett, technology chief at GE Aviation, claims that IoT has the potential to alleviate some of the key pain-points along the passenger’s journey for all involved, namely luggage handling and flight connections.

“Another challenge is the anxiety felt by passengers over tight connections. Permission-based sensing of the passengers at airports could help airlines to make better informed decisions about when to wait and when to close the door,” he writes.

Stage 8: Where’s my bag?

Luggage problems are bad news for passengers, airlines and airport operators; about six to seven bags are lost for every 1,000, according to statistics from SITA and the Department of Transportation, and this results in disgruntled customers and  costly compensation claims.

But by 2018, SITA estimates, nearly half of airports will be using IoT sensors to transmit baggage location information to customers at bag drop and baggage claim. Some airlines have already started.

Late last year, Lufthansa went live with the launch of its RIMOWA Electronic tag, an electronic luggage tag which displays baggage info in the same format, size and appearance of typical paper labels, but on a digital screen built into the luggage unit and located near the handle.

Travelers with a Rimowa tag can send their digital boarding info via Bluetooth from their smartphone to check their bag before they leave home, with details appearing on the bag’s electronic display. After arriving at the airport, they simply hand it in at the airline’s automated check-in station.

Read more: Air China chooses Panasonic to provide inflight entertainment and connectivity

Smart airports, friendly skies

All this, says Deloitte’s Irvin, is just the start: “Real, radical change of the airport experience will come when IoT connects an airport to off-airport assets such as transport options, allowing you to create a door-to-gate travel experience that is the fastest/most comfortable for you – and lets you choose options, on the fly, to adjust to changes.”

She gives as an example traffic congestion in the airport area, which may mean that a passenger coming in by car is not going to make their flight, so offering a $ 10 discount on valet parking instead of requiring them to waste time finding a parking spot themselves.

“The future travel experience is both customized and seamless to the passenger, and enabled through technology innovation,” she concludes.

For more insight into the world of connected aviation and the impact that IoT technologies will have on airlines and airports, readers may be interested in attending our Internet of Aviation event, to be held at London Heathrow on 7 & 8 November.

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Cincinnati Airport uses Bliptrack to improve passenger wait times

Cincinnati Airport uses Bliptrack to improve passenger wait times

Cincinnati Airport in Kentucky is using connected technology from BlipTrack in a bid to deal with passenger demand and improve wait times.

With almost seven million passengers passing through this international transport hub last year, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is using live data to identify delays at the security checkpoint and allocate staff and resources better.

To do this, it’s been using BlipTrack technology from Blip Systems, allowing it to process passengers in more efficient ways. Just last year, the airport achieved its best-ever ranking in its 21-year history in the US Department of Transportation airfare report.

Read more: Billund Airport invests in IoT system to improve passenger experience

Tech pioneer

CVG is always looking to improve, and it’s been using sophisticated technology for years. In 2014, CA implemented BlipTrack queue and flow technology at its checkpoints.

It was the first American airport to implement this technology, which allows staff to measure, understand and improve the traveler experience, and to better plan and allocate crucial resources.

After one year of use, the airport announced that the data gathered had helped it reduced its security line wait times by one third. A 2015 report by Purdue University found that standard wait times had dropped by nearly over four minutes from 13.2 minutes in 2011 to 8.9 minutes.

Read more: New Zealand Air Force recruits Blip Systems for traffic management project

Continuing journey

Since originally enabling this technology, Cincinnati Airport has added new features to the solution to help it continue streamlining operations further and improving the passenger experience.

For instance, it’s now using passenger-facing wait time monitors and interfaces to provide immediate wait-time status, easing natural travel anxieties associated with queuing for passengers.

In addition, the airport has established what it calls “service level agreement (SLA)-like standards for self-accountability”, helping it to stick to its goal of wait times below 15 minutes. 

Read more: Birmingham Airport uses IoT to monitor queues and keep passengers happy

Boosting efficiencies

Stephen Saunders, senior manager of terminal operations at CVG, explained how the technology works: “We have added a new feature that allows us to understand the pattern of how lanes are being utilized throughout the day.

“This helps us better understand TSA’s lane utilization on any given day. Our future goal is to pair this information with passenger show-up profiles and wait-time inputs to complete a story of how the check point is operating as a whole, and help the TSA develop lane open/close plans based on predicted throughputs.”

He added that the airport, which serves the greater Cincinnati area, has been working with partners to get the most out of this technology. “We have used tangible data to work with our partners at TSA to adjust officer start time,” said Saunders.

“We previously noticed a high spike in queue waits during our heaviest early bank of morning flights, levelling off after about 7:30am. We collectively identified TSA schedules were misaligned with the flight schedules.”

Read more: Smart city of Aarhus uses Bluetooth sensors to improve traffic flows

The future is here

Candace McGraw, CEO at CVG, is a big believer in this innovation.  “Our use of the technology has proven quite successful,” she said.

“It has enabled CVG to continue our close collaboration with TSA to ensure that the passenger experience is one that enhances the journey experience, not detracts from it. Our significant investments in our facilities and the solution ensures we use them as as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Today, more than 25 airports from around the world are using technology from Bliptrack. They include JFK, San Diego, Copenhagen, Dublin, Oslo, Manchester and Brussels airports.

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Athens International Airport turns to IoT for environmental monitoring

Athens Airport turns to IoT for environmental monitoring

At Athens Airport, two IoT tech companies, Ex Machina and Libelium, have teamed up to help airport execs keep an eye on pollutant levels and the location of aircraft. 

Last year, the number of passengers travelling in and out of Athens International Airport (AIA) grew by more than 10 percent, surpassing 20 million for the first time.

More passengers, of course, means more planes taking off and landing – and the resulting environmental impact is something that AIA executives say they take very seriously. Earlier this year, the airport achieved ‘carbon neutral’ status in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme run by industry body, the Airports Council International (ACI). That makes it the first airport in Greece to win that accreditation, to add to the accolade of being its busiest.

Opportunity for innovation

AIA says its commitment to environmental protection goes hand in hand with innovation and, in particular, with IoT technologies. Last year, the airport partnered with Ex Machina (EXM), a Greek company specializing in IoT, in order to explore how it might be used to enrich environmental monitoring, analysis and reporting. As part of this project, technology from sensor specialist Libelium was also deployed, including the company’s Waspmote sensors and its Meshlium IoT gateways.

The aim of the project, meanwhile, was to tackle two specific challenges: first, the need to monitor air quality beyond the airport perimeter fence; and second, the need to pinpoint the location of aircraft on the airfield.

In both cases, Libelium’s Waspmote devices use LoRa communications for low-power, low-range, real-time sensor data transmission and device control/orchestration. Meanwhile, GPRS is used for secure device management, over the air (OTA) firmware upgrades, configuration of firmware parameters and the bulk upload of sensor data as back-up.

IoT set-up at Athens International Airport (Credit: Libelium)

Read more: Billund Airport invests in IoT system to improve passenger experience

Air quality monitoring

The first challenge involved the monitoring and analysis of concentrations of air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. Here, EXM focused on the need for an inexpensive, highly portable air pollution monitoring device, to complement AIA’s existing air quality monitoring network.

The solution is based on Libelium’s Waspmote Plug and Sense! Sensor Platform, and is comprised of standard hardware assembly with EXM’s custom firmware. Each sensor node is equipped with probes for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ozone and particulate matter.

Read more: Intel and Bosch team up to monitor air pollution

Aircraft location

The second challenge was to detect aircraft location during take off in a non-intrusive way. To address this challenge, Ex Machina decided to utilize acoustic localization techniques, in what might be the world’s first implementation of noise sensors for this particular purpose. The company deployed a range of sound/noise metering nodes of Libelium Plug and Sense! to monitor noise levels on the airfield in real time, thus achieving airplane acoustic localization based on real-time analytics of the data produced by the noise sensors.

This analysis takes place in the EXM IoT back end, where it is correlated with other information, such as that relating to aircraft types, flights and airlines. Through the combined analysis of the acquired data, the location of aircraft can be identified and reported to the airport’s environmental department for further statistical analysis.

Libelium noise sensors installed on the airfield at AIA (Credit: Libelium)

Read more: Tata Comms: Airlines on digital transformation journey as IoT takes flight

Pilot project

The project was led by Ex Machina CEO Manolis Nikiforakis, who explains the choice of Libelium as a partner: “Fast time to market with minimum hardware-related overhead was an important requirement,” he says. “As this is a pilot project and our focus is on the IoT back-end software analytics, we also required flexibility in order to assemble sensor hardware exactly as needed,” he adds.

Further to this successful pilot, Athens International Airport is now examining other possible use cases with Ex Machina as it evolves towards ‘Airport 3.0’. The already deployed IoT infrastructure, then, looks set to be extended and reused in other applications.

Read more: Birmingham Airport uses IoT to monitor queues and keep passengers happy

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Billund Airport invests in IoT system to improve passenger experience

Billund Airport invests in IoT system to improve passenger experience

Billund Airport, Denmark, has installed a passenger flow system from Danish IoT company Blip Systems to improve the airport experience for commuters and holidaymakers.

Previously, Denmark’s second largest airport used the BlipTrack queue measurement system to measure queue and dwell times, and ensure crowds are moving seamlessly.

However, the open platform only covered security processes. Now, Billund has expanded the platform to include information on how passengers move through the airport, providing insights into their behavior during that time. The idea is that management will be able to form a clear, cohesive picture of passenger experiences, from entering the carpark, to departure, and everywhere in between.

The data will be collected in real-time, allowing staff to also make proactive decisions to improve the passenger flow. Billund Airport suggests that it will be able to use the data to encourage passengers to spend more time in the concession areas, for example. Doing so would effectively maximize non-aviation revenue, and minimize the impact of operational changes to the passenger flow, while boosting the passenger experience.

The patterns can also be averaged over a day, a week, a month, as well as a specific time of day, or a specific holiday period, which will enhance the airport’s understanding of how disruptions or changes affect the standard behavior of passengers. In theory, this kind of data could determine the future layout of the airport, and will help staff to identify potential areas of new business.

Credit: Blip Systems

Ultimately, however, the system aims to improve and streamline airport processes, such as check-in, security and immigration.

Read more: Birmingham Airport uses IoT to monitor queues and keep passengers happy

Happy passengers better for business

“The basic requirements for happy passengers are easy parking and check-in, speedy security processing, and comfort while waiting in airport terminals,” said Preben Fugl Andersen, sales manager at Blip Systems. “These factors can make or break a passenger’s airport experience and strongly influence how much money they spend in the concession areas.”

“Handling passenger flow smoothly and efficiently is key to the success of an airport and its image. To understand and improve individual areas of airport operations, it is important to understand that each area influences another and that the passenger’s journey is seen as a single process, rather than as a string of isolated events, and is key to unlocking potential gains.”

Billund Airport joins a host of other airports, including Amsterdam, Auckland and Bristol that are using the platform for passenger flow analytics. BlipTrack is employed in more than 25 airports, including JFK Airport in New York, Copenhagen, Oslo, Geneva, Milano, Birmingham, Brussels, Cincinnati and Keflavik.

Blip Systems’ bluetooth sensor technology is also in use in the Danish city of Aarhus, where it is used to improve the flow of traffic.

Read more: New Zealand Air Force recruits Blip Systems for traffic management project

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