CVG to become first American airport to monitor passengers' Wi-Fi

CINCINNATI -- If you're used to the annoyingly long wait in security lines at the airport, you're not alone. But all of that could change after the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport starts tracking passengers smartphones and other Wi-Fi based devices.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports CVG has teamed up with Lockheed Martin to become the first airport in the United States to track these gadgets, which aims to pinpoint busy areas within the airport and track how long security lines will take.

The system, called BlipTrack, is described as a completely anonymous way of monitoring passenger throughout times using mobile device signals to measure time between points through the airport.

The thought behind collecting this data is to help reduce or completely eliminate problem spots and major traffic backups.

"Now we can actually communicate to our passengers how fast the checkpoint is moving," said Jay Brock, CVG spokesman. "We can share that (information) with them on social media and keep them updated."

The system can detect the presence of a device (that has to be turned on to be monitored) but does not collect data regarding the device's owner.

"No personal information will be shared," said Brock. "It doesn’t search for any personal or identifying information."

“The BlipTrack technology benefits both passengers and the airport team as it allows them to see, in real time, where potential queues and pressure points are and provide proactive planning of the situation to improve service," said Martin Bowman, director of Global Airports for Lockheed Martin. “Knowing where there is congestion allows passengers to avoid lines – so they can spend more time shopping or relaxing in the airport. This is all about improved collaboration between the airport, airlines and TSA for the enhancement of the passenger experience.”

Though some European airports tell travelers the technology is in use, Bloomberg Businessweek says CVG officials don't plan to notify passengers, stating it's not an invasion of privacy.

Bowman says close to half of all airport travelers carry Wi-Fi enabled gadgets and that number is expected to rise. The data can also be used to look at passengers retail and restaurant habits inside the airport.

“We are working closely with the TSA to ensure that the passenger experience at CVG is one that enhances the journey experience not detracts from it. We have made significant investment in our facilities and we want to be able to make sure we use them as effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Candace McGraw, CEO at CVG “This approach means an even more collaborative approach to security at the airport by the TSA and Airport staff.”

Though this approach will first launch in the United States at CVG, the system is already operating in 20 airports across the globe, including Amsterdam, Dubai, Geneva, Oslo and Toronto.

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