Helsinki to track passenger flows using Walkbase

By Kevin Rozario |

Helsinki Airport (HEL) will soon have the ability to track passengers during their entire airport experience – from their arrival at the parking garage, through check-in to shopping and the final departure gates.

 

Using Finnish company Walkbase’s retail tracking analytics and indoor wifi positioning systems, HEL believes it will be able to better managing the flow of people through its terminal – and hopes to also leverage retail spending as a result.

 

The deal between Finavia – which operates Helsinki Airport – and Walkbase is worth several hundred thousand euros in the next few years.

 

The tech company will install up to 300 small sensors in every part of the terminal complex by the end of 2014 which track the estimated 60-70% of people who visit the airport and leave their mobile phones with wifi turned on.

 

“Implementing Walkbase technology is part of our smart airport strategy which aims to offer passengers a smooth experience and easy transfers between Europe and Asia. Helsinki is the world’s first airport to introduce passenger flow management technology covering the whole passenger pathway,” says VP of Passenger Management Heikki Koski from Finavia, Helsinki Airport.

 

However, in May, TRBusiness reported that London City Airport was already trialling a similar tracking system.

 

A PIN-POINT FIX

Walkbase technology lets airport managers get an almost pin-point fix on individual mobile devices – without storing any of the owner’s personal data. The information is used to monitor user experience – and improve it – for example by identifying any passenger flow bottlenecks within the terminal at security, or in particular shopping areas.

 

In the near future Finavia claims it will also be able to push location-based content to passengers’ smart phones – such as changed departure times or gate information, as well as finding transfer directions.

 

“Imagine a truly 21st century airport experience, where your smart phone tells you if there is time to shop or eat and to make it to your departure gate. That is already possible at Helsinki Airport with Walkbase technology,” says Tuomas Wuoti (left), CEO and co-founder of the Espoo-based tech company.

 

Wi-Fi routers and  iBeacons will monitor signals from smartphones either passively or with an app-based opt-in. “All of Walkbase’s development has been based on maintaining very strict privacy standards at the core of the product,” stresses Wuoti. “We cannot see, and do not store, any personal information about the user or owner of the device.”

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