Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu August 04 2016

San Diego Airport Using Sensors To Speed Taxi Service

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | August 04, 2016

San Diego Airport Using Sensors To Speed Taxi Service

PHOTO: With new technology in place, a wait time for a taxi at San Diego International Airport could be reduced. (Courtesy BlipSystems)

The same technology used at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to better track wait times in the facility is now being employed at San Diego International Airport – to get a taxi.

After receiving a number of customer concerns about taxi wait times, San Diego International began researching ways to digitally collect both real-time and historical wait time data to help improve taxi and shuttle van customer waiting times.

The airport settled on BlipTrack, from Denmark-based BLIP Systems, which also provided innovative ways for JFK to assess – and then pass along to travelers – wait times at various parts of its Terminal 4 venue.

The system at JFK uses a series of beacons placed around the terminal that look for Bluetooth- or Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones that are set to “discoverable” mode. Every time you pass by one of the strategically placed beacons, the information is sent back to the system, which gathers data on how many people have passed certain beacons and how fast they are moving throughout the airport.

That data is then compiled to give an estimate – available on 13 monitors stationed only at Terminal 4 – on how long the passenger wait is to get through security, or customs, or for baggage to come out.

That system is now being used at more than 25 airports around the world.

READ MORE: JFK Using Technology To Monitor Wait Times

San Diego International, the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States with more than 20 million passengers in 2015, uses a similar system but without the beacons.

“We chose the BlipTrack solution because it is a cost-effective and reliable solution. With almost a full year of operation, the system has helped identify time periods where taxi passenger wait times exceed 10 minutes, thereby allowing us to assess schedule deficiencies and taxi dispatches,” David J. Boenitz, director of ground transportation at San Diego International Airport, said in a statement. “The data has greatly helped improve the customer experience by providing us the ability to schedule taxis to be available when needed.”

Christian Bugislaus Carstens, marketing manager at BLIP Systems, said the company decided against using iBeacons in San Diego because it would have involved travelers downloading an app – and recent studies show that few passengers download and use these apps.

Instead, the technology in San Diego involves using a passive system somewhat similar to JFK.

“Superior airport management not only ensures premium passenger experience within the airport, but also provides travelers with quick and easy access to transportation—such as taxis—at the end of their journey,” Carstens said. “We value the long-term cooperation with San Diego International Airport and their professional and innovative approach in using our technology to ensure efficient taxi rank operations and improve the passenger satisfaction.”

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