Beacon Technology Lands At New York JFK International Airport

Beacon Technology at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4

Beacon technology is in the initial stages of being adopted by worldwide airports.  In an earlier post (News – December 4, 2015), Experience The Skies discussed how beacon technology works and the benefits it brings to the masses. As one of the the world’s Top 30 busiest airports (Insight), New York JFK International Airport (JFK) is the next US city (besides Cincinnati, Miami and Dallas) to install the technology.

Beacon Technology – The Past

In the past, cameras and stopwatches were used to manually track how long it took passengers to get through different lines at an airport. This method often yielded inconsistent data for the airport operator.  In addition, passengers were not provided with the information in a real time basis to manage their experience which resulted in lower satisfaction.

Beacon Technology – The Present

At JFK’s Terminal 4, passengers are now presented with estimated processing times on 13 large LCD screens. These new screens are located near TSA Security, Customs and Border Protection checkpoints and the indoor taxi queue. Large fonts are used to increase user accessibility.

Beacon Technology at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4 TSA Security
Beacon Technology at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4 TSA Security
Source: BLIP Systems

“It continuously updates,” says Daryl Jameson, Vice President at the company JFKIAT, which runs Terminal 4. People like to know how long they are going to wait in queues. Nobody likes to wait in lines and signage helps to manage expectations.”The wait times shown is a collection of data from sensors installed to monitor passengers’ mobile devices as they move around different points of the airport. Denmark based BLIP Systems invented the BlipTrack system used at JFK. It is a simple process where it detects Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices in “discoverable” mode, found in mobile phones and tablets. A non-personal unique ID—called a MAC address—is recorded, encrypted and time-stamped. By re-identifying the device from multiple sensors, the travel times, dwell times and movement patterns become available.

Benefits for JFK T4 Passengers

“We’re probably reaching 19.5 million passengers this year in total. It’s a big operation, which is why we’re introducing innovations to enhance the operations of the building. This new system will help us manage and eliminate problem spots within the facility, and sharing the processing time with our travelers will provide them with peace of mind so they may continue to expect a pleasant travel experience. Additionally, data from travellers’ phones could eventually influence future airport design,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, President and CEO of JFKIAT.

Beacon Technology at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4 customs
Beacon Technology at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4 customs
Source: BLIP Systems

Terminal 4 hosts more than 30 domestic and international airlines. Delta Air Lines along with its SkyTeam alliance members are the main tenant of this terminal. The cost to install beacon technology and screens are estimated to be around US$250,000. For the time being, none of the other terminals at JFK will have this type of beacon technology.

Other Airports That Use The BlipTrack Solution

Here is a list of airports that also have BlipTrack Solution implemented. The majority of these airports are located in Europe. As beacon technology is still in its infancy, only two airports on this list along with JFK are in the top 30 busiest airport rankings.

Airport Name Airport Code Continent Major Carriers 2014 Top 30 Busiest Airport Ranking
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport CVG North America Delta Air Lines (DL) Not Ranked
Toronto Pearson International Airport YYZ North America Air Canada (AC), Westjet (WS) Not Ranked
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol AMS Europe KLM (KL)  14
Dublin Airport DUB Europe Aer Lingus (EI) Not Ranked
Milan–Malpensa Airport MXP Europe Alitalia (AZ) Not Ranked
Brussels Airport BRU Europe Brussels Airlines (SN) Not Ranked
Barcelona–El Prat Airport BCN Europe Air Nostrum (YM), Vueling (VY) Not Ranked

Manchester Airport

MAN Europe Flybe (BE) Not Ranked
Copenhagen Airport CPH Europe Scandinavian Airlines (SK), Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY)  Not Ranked
Oslo Airport OSL Europe Scandinavian Airlines (SK),  Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY) Not Ranked
Helsinki Airport  HEL Europe Finnair (AY) Not Ranked
Dubai International Airport  DXB  Asia  Emirates (EK)  6
Auckland Airport AKL Australia Air New Zealand (NZ) Not Ranked

It is important that airport operators and airlines communicate any real time wait time information to passengers not just at the airport but also on mobile applications, websites and other 3rd party systems relay this data.

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