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Finding the Way


Karlee Butler Kennedy contends that the growth in geospatial data and digital indoor wayfinding can only enhance the passenger experience at airports.

As people return to the world’s airports, they are finding an impressive assortment of creative leisure activities, world-class food and drink, and unique offerings that highlight a geographical region’s history and strengths.

And increasingly airports are turning to geospatial and location technologies to ensure that passengers passing through their facilities know exactly where these new offerings are how to find them quickly and easily.

Indeed, moving forward, technology in the form of automation, contactless solutions for everything from check-in and security to boarding, and ease of navigability are likely to prove keys to customer satisfaction. 

In my opinion, in order to capitalise on the expected upturn in passengers during the second half of 2021 and beyond, airport operators need to consider investing in technology that makes airports easier to navigate. 

Some, such as Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the US are potentially already ahead of the pack, by putting vital health and travel information at their passengers’ fingertips courtesy of Atrius and geospatial data and indoor wayfinding enhancements.

Data can be synced across websites, mobile apps, and digital displays in response to constantly changing conditions, and passengers can access it in the palm of their hands. In addition, prompts to nearby concessions tailored to traveller interests help vendors thrive no matter where they are in the terminal.   

Once people are at the airport, finding their way around a complex space requires dynamic wayfinding that guides them with optimum routes and speed. 

Airports that transform static display directories into contextually relevant, interactive experiences can provide the most up-to-date information, including food and entertainment locations, operating hours, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stations, and other passenger amenities. 

Travellers scan embedded QR codes to conduct searches to desired locales and wayfinding experiences on their own mobile devices. Replacing static maps and signage with intelligent solutions gives terminal operators the ability to control, manage, and update spatial data with ease. 

With renovation projects (like those at Denver International) in full swing, even familiar concourses can become labyrinths of detours, closed-off partitions, and construction zones that change every day. Continual change means static signage and decals become outdated as projects progress. 

Dynamic maps and QR codes that orient passenger to their locations are user-friendly ways to help people navigate renovation activity reshaping airport spaces. Hassle-free travel relaxes passengers. When people know exactly where they are in relation to their gates, they are more willing to shop, dine and visit area attractions. 

Passengers can personalise their time in the terminal, plotting a course that gets them where they need to be while discovering regional art, local talent, and amenities along the way. Equally important to airport operators, revenue typically increases as foot traffic to entertainment venues, boutiques, and food concession improves.

Airport staff and airline employees also benefit from technology upgrades. For example, enhanced wayfinding helps teams better assist travellers, and richer geospatial data collection better informs resource allocation and budgeting.

The good news is, we’ve seen many airlines and airports already make significant investments in upgrading their facilities with cutting-edge technologies to best meet passenger, operating staff, and vendors’ needs. 

Today’s travel industry involves complex spaces brimming with data that can inspire, guide, and thrill visitors. Investing for tomorrow with today’s innovation keeps travellers looking forward to their airport time and their trip. 

About the author

Karlee Butler Kennedy is vice president of global sales and strategic accounts for US-based Acuity Brands.

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