The new tools for managing the flow of people through the busy airport have been developed by Walkbase, a Finnish company that is the leader in retail tracking analytics and indoor wifi positioning systems.
Walkbase has installed dozens of sensors throughout the entire terminal complex, which track the estimated 60-70% of people who visit the airport and leave their mobile phones with wifi turned on.
The new innovations allow Helsinki Airport to burnish its reputation as a forward-thinking hub, which embeds seamless innovation into travelers' experiences at the flagship Finavia property.
“Implementing Walkbase technology is part of our smart airport strategy which aims to offer passengers smooth airport experience and easy transfers between Europe and Asia. Helsinki Airport is now the world’s first airport to introduce passenger flow management technology covering the whole passenger path way from car parks to departure gates, says VP of Passenger Management Heikki Koski from Finavia, Helsinki Airport.
The deal between Finavia - which operates Helsinki Airport - and Walkbase, is expected to be worth several hundred thousand euros in the next few years.
The Walkbase technology lets airport managers get an almost pinpoint fix on individual mobile devices, without storing any of the owner’s personal data. The positioning information is used to monitor and improve the user experience for passengers arriving, departing or transferring at the airport - for example by identifying any passenger flow bottlenecks within the terminal at security, or in particular shopping areas. The solution lets airport retailers maximise their own marketing efforts, and in the near future will allow passengers to benefit from location-based content to be pushed to passengers' smart phones - such as changed departure times or gate information, as well as finding transfer directions.
"Imagine a truly 21st century airport experience, where your smart phone tells you if there is time to shop or eat or make it to your departure gate. That is already possible at Helsinki Airport with Walkbase technology" said Tuomas Wuoti, CEO and co-founder of the Espoo-based company.
"Our collaboration with Finavia also shows how a legacy service provider like an airport can still innovate and improve the way they do business, constantly evolving and willing to work with the startup culture at the heart of Finland's new digital economy" Wuoti added.
The Walkbase technical rollout at Helsinki Airport will see up to 300 small devices installed in every part of the complex by the end of the year. The iBeacons and Wi-Fi routers discreetly monitor signals from smart phones either passively or with an app-based opt-in, and the whole technology bundle ensures complete personal data security. "All of Walkbase's development has been based on maintaining very strict privacy standards at the core of the product" said Wuoti. "We cannot see, and do not store, any personal information about the user or owner of the device" he stressed.