We shine the spotlight on a handful of initiatives designed to help airports safely resume operations after the global COVID-19 lockdown ends and air travel is back on the agenda.
Boosting airport operations
Amorph Systems and VANTIQ have announced a strategic partnership to create a new application that will help airports worldwide address real-time operational requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The new application combines thermal cameras, flight information, passenger flows and real-time communication to instantly detect passengers with high temperatures and alert airport operations control to identify potential contaminated areas.
The system also allows airport managers to quickly re-direct passenger flows, re-position flights and re-allocate staff due to
The application is based on the existing AMORPH.aero system, which is used by dozens of airports globally to plan, forecast and manage passenger flows and airport resources.
The application was built in just two weeks using VANTIQ’s agile development platform, which combines real-world data and real-time events to power the next generation of applications using a broad array of sensors, edge devices and artificial intelligence.
“Airports are under incredible pressure right now, as they address exceptional operational issues caused by COVID-19,” said Dr Frank Frauenhoffer, managing director of Amorph Systems.
“Our new application will be highly valuable not only to manage the current situation, but to prepare for future waves of COVID-19 or other potential outbreaks of other viruses. In order to keep passengers safe, airports need to apply new real-time health measures.”
Marty Sprinzen, co-founder and CEO of VANTIQ, said: “We’re proud to work with Amorph on this important new application for airports around the world. It’s amazing to see how people are stepping up to innovate in this pandemic, and we look forward to helping Amorph with other industrial applications. There will undoubtedly be many changes in how the world operates in both the short and long-term.”
Pioneering new touchless technology
Avalon Airport is set to become the first gateway in Australia to introduce touchless, self-service technology for passengers.
The airport – located between the cities of Melbourne and Geelong – states that the pioneering initiative, courtesy of its partnership with Elenium Automation, will ensure both world-class safety and a top passenger experience when the airport
Avalon’s CEO, Justin Giddings, notes: “The partnership between Elenium and Avalon demonstrates how quickly a response to the COVID-19 virus can be implemented.
“This solution will allow passengers to go through the self-service experience without touching a device, thereby providing a seamless, intuitive and safe method of moving quickly through the airport.”
Instead of touching screens, passengers at Avalon Airport will control their interaction with the kiosks and bag drops via head movement. Cameras in kiosks and bag drops will link the movement of the passenger’s head with the movement of a cursor on the screen.
In addition, passports can be read by holding them open in front of a camera, rather than by inserting them into a passport slot.
Elenium Automation CEO and co-founder, Aaron Hornlimann, says: “While this is very difficult time for the aviation industry, we have an opportunity to make the changes for passenger safety and wellbeing that will increase their confidence.
“We are very excited that Avalon is working with us to ensure the airport is in a great position to rebound from this crisis by giving their passengers and team a streamlined, safe airport experience.
“We believe the introduction of touchless self-service will encourage people to return to travel.”
Tackling the challenges of physical distancing at airports
Tracking crowd movements through a passenger contagion map and identifying contagious groups at an early stage could prove key
to helping airports overcome some of the physical distancing challenges they will face when traffic numbers begin to pick up, according to Xovis.
Indeed, the people flow solutions expert believes that “the powerful tools” could be used by airports to ensure that they are compliant with post COVID-19 travel regulations and give returning travellers some peace of mind.
Its opinion is based on its own scientific research, published in a white paper in April and available to download as a PDF at https://bit.ly/30nde0K
Xovis reveals that the new data builds on its history of analysing algorithms of crowd movements and measuring queues and groups in a dynamic environment.
The white paper highlights how crowd density needs to be understood in context of a contagion map whereby both absolute contagion risk (where person-to-person infection is most likely to happen) and relative contagion risk (where the contagion risk is highest for an individual) need to be analysed.
It states: “In airports, places of particular attention will, of course, be security lines, but also areas that are frequently used and touched by passengers such as self-service facilities or bathrooms.
“In addition, the detection of groups that violate physical distancing rules are another important factor for airports
Xovis co-founder and chief product officer, Christian Studer, adds: “Using a high-precision people flow monitoring system is the most effective way for airports to ensure physical distancing regulations are met.
“The white paper builds the foundation for implementing exactly this, while protecting airport workers from unnecessary risks and maintaining passenger experience levels.”
New ultraviolet (UVC) light kits unveiled by Smiths Detection
Smiths Detection has announced the launch of its new ultraviolet (UVC) light kits, which it states are capable of destroying up to 99.9% of microorganisms present on baggage trays at the security checkpoint.
It notes that demonstrating heightened hygiene standards will be important as airports seek to restore the confidence of travellers and staff during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“UVC is one way that airports can do this, while providing longer-term protection against bacteria or viruses,” says Smiths Detection.
“Helping to protect passengers and staff from tactile transmission of contagious disease as they pass through security checkpoints at airports, Smiths Detection UVC kits automatically disinfect trays as they are being transported from the reclaim area back to the divest station.
“Thanks to its specially designed casing and other safety measures, the UVC lights pose no exposure risk to staff or
passengers and can be installed quickly and easily into existing tray handling systems.”
The company adds that this proven technology has been successfully used for the disinfection of surfaces in industries with high hygiene requirements, such as the food and health sectors, for many years.
Its application at checkpoint security, it claims, will reduce the risk of contamination and therefore reassure passengers and staff about the safety of the security process.
“A trusted advisor within the industry, Smiths Detection have been working with airports globally to deliver necessary enhancements to their infrastructure that can be made in response to the pandemic,” said the company’s global director for aviation, Richard Thompson.
“UVC lights are a practical, straightforward way that airports can help reduce the transmission of any bacteria or virus that might be on the surface of its trays now and in the long-term.”
Trials of the solution are underway on site at airports, and it is available immediately for installation with very short lead times.
Arconas focused on passenger comfort and safety
One inevitability of today’s uncertain world is that airport touchpoints, fixtures and fittings will change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, on a temporary basis at least, until a vaccine is found.
Furniture is an integral part of the aircraft boarding journey, but is an item that is frequently touched, so certain precautions will be necessary. In the short-term, a rethinking of materials selection and layout configuration options are ways to create strategies for increased safety and separation.
Arconas has spent time thinking about this issue, engaged stakeholders, and recommends the following short-term strategies: Choose materials that are easy to clean and disinfect; Configure furniture to encourage physical distancing; Add cough shields to counters; Incorporate seating options with privacy panels; and Add dedicated PPE waste bins to encourage proper disposal of items such as gloves and masks.
For upholstered seating, choose fabrics such as vinyl or leather that can be easily wiped clean, don’t collect dirt, and are able to be disinfected in situ. Solid material seating such as polyurethane seats are a good option because of their cleanability and anti-microbial properties.
Polyurethane is often used in hospitals and medical offices because of these features, but also are widely used by transportation facilities. Treated wood and metal seating are also good alternatives as they can easily be wiped clean and disinfected.
Regulations around physical distancing will likely remain in place in the short-term and the foreseeable transition/recovery period. To support physical distancing in hold room areas, movable physical barriers such as dividers can be added between seats or groups of seats.
These additional barriers should consider people travelling alone as well as in small groups and allow for variable sizes. Eliminating some armrests on sculptural or longer lounge pieces will allow for passengers to ‘self-distance’ according to recommended guidelines. Additionally, adding tables between seats will encourage people to leave space and self-distance from others.
As we are already seeing in many public places, information desks, kiosks, and check-in desks may have plastic or glass cough shields added to them to create a safe barrier between passengers and facility staff. The counters themselves should also be made of highly cleanable materials such as metal, laminate or solid surface that can be wiped and disinfected frequently.
For individuals, choose seating with high-backs and privacy panels with a cleanable surface. There will be a time after the peak of the pandemic where public life will slowly open back up, but it will be done with an abundance of caution.
“We will continue to work closely with clients and stakeholders to make the necessary adjustments and provide parts and services that will evolve out of this crisis,” says Lynn Gordon, the company’s vice president of business development.
ZenDev Consulting Group
Type of business: Planning & Construction
ZenDev Group specialises in interim technology leadership. With decades of experience as CTOs, CIOs, development and infrastructure leaders we can advance and stabilise your environments quickly and efficiently. We provide leadership continuity while solving your most pressing challenges: Refreshing your technical architecture; optimising software team productivity; securing network and product; and providing a strategic roadmap aligned with business goals.
Jacobs Engineering Group
Type of business: Planning & Construction
Jacobs Engineering Group is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of professional A/E, programme management and construction management services. We are consistently ranked among the top three firms overall and the top five in airports by Engineering News Record (ENR) Magazine. With more than 60 years of experience providing aviation program and construction management, Jacobs has become one of the world’s leading providers of comprehensive aviation services.
TravelSky Technology Limited
Type of business: IT & Communications
As a leading provider of information technology and commercial service in China’s air travel and tourism industry, TravelSky’s core business is oriented toward airlines, airports, ticket sales agents, travel enterprises and relevant civil aviation institutions and international organisations, providing comprehensive service including air passenger service as well as final settlement and liquidation services.