30 May 2012 by Alaistair Deacon
Making Sense of 'BluFi'
Over the last few years, and in particular over the last 12 months, there has been significant growth in the number of passengers carrying smartphone devices. A significant portion of smartphone users leave their WiFi capabilities permanently enabled as free or low cost WiFi becomes ubiquitous, especially in airports.
Following on from Amor Group’s launch of BluFi at Passenger Terminal Expo this year, we caught up with Alaistair Deacon, Chief Aviation Technologist at Amor Group, to discuss how airports can utilize these trends to improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction within the airport terminal.
You were recently involved in the successful product launch of “BluFi” at Passenger Terminal Expo this year. I understand there has been a lot of interest in your new product, but what exactly is “BluFi”?
“Amor Group’s “BluFi” product is an augmented Bluetooth and WiFi tracking solution which provides airport operations with real-time data on their queue times and passenger flows. Due to the combination of these two technologies we have termed this solution “BluFi”. This new solution tracks the unique IDs from both Bluetooth and WiFi devices to give a threefold increase in the number of passengers tracked.”
“Amor has identified WiFi data as a rich source of additional tracking information to further augment the intelligence we already gather via Bluetooth tracking.”
Very interesting, but how does “BluFi” fit into your product set?
“Amor has incorporated WiFi tracking capabilities into the Chroma ACDB (Airport Collaboration Database) roadmap with our technology partners, BLIP Systems.
The BluFi tracking, along with Amor’s eco-system of passenger process monitoring vendors, makes Chroma ACDB the world’s leading and most comprehensive, proven solution for Airport Operations Collaboration, Service Delivery Management and Queue Measurement.”
So what made Amor augment these two technologies?
“In general, iOS and Android devices cannot be tracked via Bluetooth, meaning that BluFi will capture a large proportion of passengers not otherwise tracked by standalone Bluetooth. “
“From years of deployment experience, the BlipTrack Bluetooth solution tracks between 10-15% of all passengers, 24 hours a day. By consolidating Bluetooth and WiFi data we can now capture up to 50% of all passengers being processed through a terminal. This larger sample rate helps to increase the accuracy of the data captured.”
“Adding WiFi means we can measure a greater number of passengers across a variety of areas and situations including baggage halls and retail areas”
As WiFi is increasing your sample count, does this mean that you could use WiFi on its own to monitor queue times?
“Bluetooth passenger tracking is still king when it comes to the measurement of queue times. With Bluetooth, we actively ‘ping’ the mobile devices around once per second to obtain accurate queue times. With WiFi tracking, we passively ‘listen’ for the mobile devices searching out WiFi base stations. Depending on the phone’s activity, this may be between 1 and 45 seconds. However, with the quantity of WiFi data, this can be analysed and merged with the Bluetooth tracking data to enhance the overall accuracy and penetration of the solution
With the introduction of WiFi as a means of tracking passengers, does this mean that Bluetooth will become redundant in the next couple of years?
“No. Despite the rise of smartphone usage, 60% of handsets in circulation are traditional feature phones. Bluetooth tracking still provides the most accurate measurement of the queue and dwell times of these users as it communicates with the Bluetooth device every second.”
Finally, what makes Amor best placed to deliver this innovation?
“We have been utilising the BlipTrack Bluetooth technology from BLIP Systems to track passengers’ mobile devices to measure queue and dwell times throughout the airport process for over 5 years since the initial deployment of Bluetooth at LHR in 2007. We have deployed Bluetooth passenger tracking in almost 30 international airports across multiple continents, providing intelligence around the movements of over 750m passengers.”