Finnish Airport Trials Bluetooth Passenger Tracking

Finland’s largest airport is putting everyday communications technology to a new use in a programme intended to speed up the travel experience for passengers. And it’s the passengers themselves that are helping to make it work.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport’s new passenger tracking system involves Bluetooth signals generated by mobile phones. While Bluetooth is typically used to send data from one communications platform to another, it can also serve as a status indicator.

In the airport’s case, it’s being used to track passengers passing through security. It can show how quickly security and screening are being carried out simply by doing what it normally does but the really clever part is that the results are highlighted on a prominent display screen.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport passengers viewing this screen, which shows the average waiting time associated with particular queues, then have the option to relocate to another queue. On that basis, it’s a system that benefits airlines and passengers alike, not to mention the airport itself.

Bluetooth Airport Passenger Tracking
Right now, the Bluetooth airport passenger tracking system is being put through trials but, so long as it’s successful, it’s set to be introduced permanently later on in the summer.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is operated by state-owned Finavia and it’s been in operation since the 1950s. In 2010, it was used by close to 13 million passengers: of the airports based in Northern European nations, only Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm-Arlanda were busier.

The new tracking measure is comparable to pre-existing systems installed at Oslo Airport, Copenhagen Airport and London Heathrow in recent times.

Finnish Airport Bluetooth Trial
“The method is currently in the testing phase, but by the end of next month, passengers will be able to see the average queuing times on security control monitors”, Finavia’s airliners and passengers head, Pirjo Lähteelä, explained in a press release on the Finnish airport Bluetooth trial.

“Presenting queuing times is part of a project, in which Finavia is working to improve the smoothness and customer service of its security control operations.”
“Last spring, queuing times were significantly reduced by restructuring queue management”, he added.

Helsinki Airport officials have stressed that the Bluetooth passenger tracking solution doesn’t represent a security compromise, since personal data such as the name assigned to each device, or its mobile number, aren’t detected.