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New technology will keep track of travellers via smartphones

Dubai airport is expecting to use this technology by next year

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Gulf News

Dubai: Don't be surprised if your every movement is being tracked at airports two years from now.

Sita, specialists in air transport communications and IT solutions, is experimenting with a new technology that can track passengers.

"It simply means the moment a passenger comes to the airport, the airport systems would know," said Jihad Boueri, VP Solution Line, Middle East and North Africa, Sita.

He said that it can be done by tracking travellers' smart phones or detecting them through the airport's Wi-Fi or Bluetooth systems.

"It would help the airport in knowing the passenger flow," Boueri said.

While this technology is still being tested and has not been deployed at any of the world's airports, Boueri said Sita is implementing this technology in Australia's Sydney airport and Copenhagen airport.

A proof-of-concept exercise was done by Dubai International Airport last year.

Helping airports

"Dubai airport would be going in this direction mostly by next year," Boueri told Gulf News, adding it would greatly help airports to track passenger movements.

Meanwhile, making the most of technology to deliver intelligent airports of the future, Sita claims that by 2013, the "intelligent airport" will be able to track, manage and share real-time information.

"This will allow the intelligent airport to be proactive and predictive in optimising the passenger's journey," said Boueri.

He added: "Passengers as well as airlines are becoming increasingly demanding.

"And airports are facing a challenge. They want to reduce costs but at the same time they want to deliver much better service."

There are three key areas that attract the majority of airport technology investments today, according to Sita.

These include "mobility" (SMS service etc), "self-service" and "CDM" (collaborative decision making).

Boueri said that mobility means a passenger's mobile device is all that he would require during his journey — from ticket to boarding pass to check in and so on. "This is where all the development is taking place,' he said.

Self-service would mean no assistance required at the airport — barring exceptional cases, including airport transfers, transiting and so on.

"So this would mean self-service from the time you enter the airport all the way to boarding the aircraft," Boueri pointed out.

Flow management

And collaborative decision making is all about business intelligence wherein all the systems at airports integrate such as airport operations, ground handling, airlines and passengers.

"For instance, accurate estimates of arrival and departure times can improve aircraft handling, apron services, gate management, air traffic control and air traffic flow management," said Boueri.

"According to the Sita study, by 2013, around 40 per cent of the airports surveyed would have implemented all these facilities — and with the investment not more than it is today," he said.

He added: "It will happen. The technology is there but it needs some time to be deployed at airports."

In the Middle East, Sita has implemented a number of advanced IT solutions including.

"Such technologies are aimed at improving passenger services and reducing costs," said Boueri.