Technology is rapidly spreading across the world. As it improves, devices begin to spin a complex web of communication that is continually growing more complicated and integrated with other technologies – a resource that is yet to be fully utilized by airports, but could be used to great success in many fields of operations, from easing management stress to improving the passenger experience.
This concept, called the Internet of Things (IoT), is an interconnected network of physical electronics which all communicate with each other. This data is shared and spread across devices to enable the applications and technology to better serve the user. For example, a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat or garage opener can send data to and work with your computer, phone and even smart watch.
This concept is beginning to take form in airports as well, especially as technologies advance. Passengers and employees can use wearable technology in the form of Google Glass and the Apple Watch alike to ease travel and operations. Passengers can wave their smart device over a terminal instead of carrying a ticket and waiting in line; Google Glass can guide employees and staff through other devices towards problem areas or to help passengers, and much more.
The use of these technologies is only the tip of the iceberg that is the Internet of Things. In order to create a future of integration and growth of communicating electronics, more freedom to grow needs to be given and safety of the devices needs to be ensured. This is especially important to consider its use of at airports, as the proper application of technology can heighten safety and greatly improve the travel experience.
Advancement in biometric security could release the need for even passengers to have devices or papers. Cutting edge surveillance coupled with devices could detect threats and inform staff before employees and passengers can even notice. iBeacons placed around the airport can guide travellers to their destination, to deals at stores or airport events across the property; or it can guide staff to problem areas, passengers in need of direction, or to the proper locations in the event of an emergency.
Safety is a concern if the Internet of Things is not properly applied and secured. With so many disparate devices sending data back and forth, we need to ensure that the information is protected. Similarly with Uber and Lyft, regulations need to be put in place to ensure passenger safety on top of the convenience the applications grant. But that is only one step towards a brighter future. As long as these technologies are properly secured and implemented, airports will be able to use them to great success.
It is time to discard old business models and join the web of ever-improving technology, ensuring that airports can continually improve operations and the passenger experience.