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Digitalisation speeds up airport commuting

23.5.2018 at 15:06
Helsinki Airport Departure Hall
For many of us, travelling through an airport means long, slow queues and frequent security control checks. Finavia, Finnair, Finnish Customs and the Finnish Border Guard work together in the Business Finland dLab workshop in order to develop digital solutions that facilitate and speed up travelling through airports.

Mr Yi, from China, has always wanted to travel to Paris. He has now managed to find good flights with a stop-over at Helsinki Airport. Although Mr Yi is very excited about his trip, he is also slightly worried about things running smoothly. What documents do I need? Will I make it in time to my connecting flight? What should I pack?

People from all around the world ask themselves the same questions as Mr Yi. Mr Yi is not a real person, but his story could be real for anyone who travels. Finnair, Finavia, Finnish Customs and the Finnish Border Guard came up with the fictional Mr Yi in order to identify the different points and stages travellers go through at airports to streamline those parts of the process where it is necessary.

In the Business Finland dLab workshop, four different actors work together in order to find out how digital solutions could facilitate airport functions from the customer's point of view, and how using personalised information can help passengers overcome uncertainties about their trip.

“Bypassing unnecessary baggage checks would save a lot of time at the airport. For example, removing a lithium battery from a passenger's bag takes up to four minutes each time," says Matti Lehto, Head of Ops Digitalization at Finavia.

"If we could better predict the flow of passengers, the customer would receive good service instead of having to spend time in queues. Sudden and even the slightest traffic peaks can have a significant impact on the airport's functionality," says Timo Rissanen, Head of Helsinki Ground Experience at Finnair.

Allocated assistance by means of digital identity

The passenger may choose to give the airport some personal information in order for the airport to create for them a digital identity. With the help of a digital identity, the airport can send the passenger relevant information regarding their trip.

For example, the relevant information may include advice about forbidden items, such as lithium batteries or hair spray bottles.

"If the customer consents, their information can be shared wherever it is needed in order to assist them. People tend to consent to sharing their details if it benefits them," continues Finavia’s Lehto.

Finavia has been rapidly developing the airport's digital services. A few years ago, it launched check-in machines and border control machines based on biometric and visual identification. Soon after, passengers could automatically check in their cargo hold luggage and the readers at the gates became electronic.

Last spring, Helsinki Airport and Finnair collaborated in order to trial facial recognition technology. Replacing regular tickets with this technology means the passenger has one less document to worry about.

"Airport operations are quite repetitive from the passenger's point of view. Intelligent solutions minimise repetition and make the obligatory processes run smoothly and quickly for passengers," Lehto says.

Passengers want clarity – all official information in one place

The vast amount of information provided by different authorities and actors may confuse passengers. For this reason, the Business Finland dLab workshop brought together various actors to participate. 

"When planning the execution of the workshop, the participating actors agreed on the importance of working together in order to serve our customers in the best way possible," says Annukka Elonen from Finnish Customs.

It may be difficult to contact the relevant authority in a problematic situation, especially for foreigners. Therefore, it would be easier for the passenger to access all the relevant information in one place.

"For example, customs information needs to be available for the passenger at the right time. The service channel, however, does not need to be maintained by Customs. Information needs to reach the customer through a channel that they use. This may refer to the moment of making the booking or using the airport's services," says Elonen.

Lehto believes that working together in order to develop the entire travel chain is a great way of making Finland an inviting travel destination.

Read more about dLab here

Source: Business Finland 15.5.2018