After the pandemic and endless lockdowns, people want to get back to some level of normalcy. In the summer months, this means travel and holidays with friends and family. So, it’s no surprise that the European Airports Association (ACI) warned the world of “widespread chaos” at airports.
However, it’s not just the crowds of travelers you have to worry about at airports. Although passenger numbers are forecasted to grow from 47 million to 125 million in August, ongoing COVID-19 protocols also add another layer of complexity.
In this scenario, the combination of traffic concentration at peak times, space constraints at facilities, and multiple COVID-19 checks create significant chaos. With enforced social distancing and increased processing times, it’s only going to get worse.
By using a people counting tool like Vemcount and queue management systems, airports can better manage crowds. With the benefit of real-time footfall data, we can take the guesswork out and make evidence-based strategic and operational decisions.
So, how can we use people counting tools to avoid chaos and disruptions at airports? Let’s take a look.
Enforce COVID Protocols
We can leverage people counting technologies to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. In this scenario, smart sensors can measure the distance between each individual and alert staff whenever there’s a violation.
For example, you can connect footfall sensors to software that’s connected to screens at check-in counters to automatically alert travelers when they stand too close to each other. The same is true when smart cameras detect travelers without masks.
With the help of real-time footfall data and analytics, you can also update wait times on airport monitors, deploy staff as the queue gets longer, and even alert security to maintain discipline.
Optimize Airport Traffic
We built airports that accommodate thousands of people, but we constructed them without taking social distancing protocols into account. This means that airports no longer have the capacity to accommodate pre-pandemic numbers.
People counting and queue management tools help management better understand passenger movement within airports. This approach helps identify peak times, areas at risk of congestion, and more. By making smart decisions based on the data, airports have a real opportunity to deliver enhanced passenger experiences.
For example, people tend to be more patient when they know how long they have to wait. With real-time updates through screens or push notifications, you can minimize the risk of unknown anxiety. After all, when you don’t inform people and leave them in the dark, there’s always a risk of them growing frustrated and anxious.
Passenger volumes can fluctuate on an hourly or daily basis. This makes it vital for managers to have a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground. This approach helps them better plan, strategize and make changes quickly and effectively. For example, you can improve staff scheduling based on footfall data trends, peak times, and employee performance.
By leveraging heatmaps, you can also identify and dwell zones and times. This information can help airport management identify ways to minimize dwell times and avoid potential congestion.
For example, by monitoring and analyzing traffic at security, check-in, and passport control, you can better manage traffic flow from one point to another. If you want to slow things down, there’s an opportunity here to set up popup retail kiosks along the way to provide food and refreshments (while passengers wait).
People counting technology used in combination with artificial intelligence and smart cameras help boost security protocols. People counter video surveillance helps detect areas at the threat of overcrowding and alert staff to better secure and manage those spaces.
Whenever a terminal or a specific space is about to reach maximum occupancy levels, these real-time alerts let management know when to enable access to different parts of the airport. You can also use smart cameras along with footfall trackers to understand the overall mood of passengers by tracking facial expressions and so on.
Whenever there’s a risk of things getting out of control, the presence of airport security alone can help deescalate the situation. It can also help management plan and schedule more security staff during high traffic times.
All this data also helps retailers inside airports provide enhanced shopping experiences. For example, you can change the store layout based on footfall data to better accommodate travelers following social distancing. This approach can go a long way to boost conversions.
At Vemco, we’re serious about people counting and queue management. We have all the tools you need to better manage crowds in airports, train stations, and more. To learn more about how you can leverage people counters, footfall analytics, and related technologies, reach out for a commitment-free consultation.