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Exclusive: Here’s how Bangalore International Airport is betting big on IoT, AI & ML

BIAL to implement Digi Yatra – the passenger’s face will become the single biometric token – there will be no more inconvenience of showing an eTicket/ boarding pass/ identity card at various locations. 

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Hari Marar, MD & CEO, BIAL is leveraging the technological innovations at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB) to offer a seamless travel experience for passengers and is creating a future-ready airport. Bangalore International Airport Limited is the third largest and busiest airport in India.

Bangalore International Airport is embarking on a transformational journey and is leveraging IoT, AI, and ML for quick reactions to the provision of passenger facilities across the airport and enhance Airside performance, enabling on-time departures of flights. A robust IT infrastructure to support future technologies, with the use of BI, AI, and deep-learning algorithms will facilitate transformation as the Terminal at BLR Airport evolves, always ensuring that data security is central to all processes.

Biometric and paperless boarding

BIAL is currently planning the implementation of the Digi Yatra biometric boarding system at KIAB. From entry into the Airport campus till boarding the aircraft, every point in the passenger’s travel through the Airport will be touched by various aspects of technology.

With the implementation of Digi Yatra – subject to MoCA and GoI developing the platform – the passenger’s face will become the single biometric token – there will be no more inconvenience of showing an eTicket/ boarding pass/ identity card at various locations.

Marar explains, “To use this technology, the passenger must create a DigiYatra ID with a one-time validation of his/ her Aadhaar or any other Government-approved ID, followed by one-time facial recognition at the Airport kiosk.”

The rollout will be phased and will start with one domestic airline and scale up systematically over the next few months.

Frictionless check-in and check-out

BIAL has launched the self-bag drop facility to enhance customer experience. 16 fully-automated Self Bag Drop machines have been deployed to accelerate the baggage transaction and reduce check-in queues. The bags are measured, weighed, scanned and automatically fed into the baggage handling system, thereby enabling the check-process to be completed in approximately 45 seconds.

As many as 32 brands new self-check-in kiosks are planned to be installed to print boarding passes and baggage tags. These kiosks have been specially designed for BLR Airport. The implementation of Smart security lanes with automated tray retrieval will integrate security screening with the latest technological innovations to facilitate more accurate screening and higher throughput, making the process more pervasive but less invasive.

“Passengers will breeze through the security-check area in less than five minutes, reducing stress levels for passengers. Our concerted efforts are to introduce innovative and interactive digital solutions that will create value for our passengers and concessionaires” he asserts.

Advanced Analytics for deepening the experience

The BI and analytics platform is currently under execution at KIAB and, amongst the many other benefits to the enterprise, specifically for passengers, it would help the Airport understand passenger reporting patterns, processing times, resource usage, therefore enabling the dynamic scale-up of resources. This is based on the correlation of data from various external data sources like weather, traffic, flight status, social media and analytics from various BIAL internal systems.

Analytics will also be applied using algorithms and deep learning algorithms built on the platform, enabling enhancement in passenger service and experience, reduction in the queue waiting times and improvement in process efficiencies. The BI and analytics platform will be invaluable on both on a tactical interventions level as well as from a strategic planning perspective, giving BIAL the ability to deliver enhanced services to the passengers at KIAB.

Sustainable airport

“Sustainability remains a key pillar as operations at BLR Airport are conducted in a responsible manner with various measures that enable us to aspire for the highest environmental sustainability recognition,” Marar says.

Hence, in order to create a sustainable building, Marar is launching an IoT platform and Smart Aerocity initiatives to manage various devices, equipment, etc. These IoT solutions will help in collating and analyze the data from multiple devices across the campus like street lights, HVAC, energy and water meters, temperature and weather sensors, electrical equipment and many others. The data will further be processed using algorithms to fuel-up the efficiencies, proactive maintenance of equipment to reduce downtime and enhance service levels.

Sharing of relevant information with passengers on an API ecosystem will lead to a reduction in passenger anxiety related to air travel.

“BLR Airport will continue to lead from the front in transforming air travel in India by leveraging technology. The technology used by BIAL will be advanced, yet simple enough for Indian consumers to easily adapt and experience, and at the same time, it will be secure and efficient, thereby safeguarding customer privacy. Towards this, we have an efficient team that is continually devising ways to bring new technologies to airport operations,” Marar adds.

Dwelling the skill-sets to complimenting emerging tech 

BIAL signed a five-year agreement with Accenture in 2017 to create the Bangalore Airport-Accenture Innovation Centre (BAIC) on the Airport Campus. The agreement is the centerpiece of their digital transformation programme and covers both digital transformation and innovation. BIAL have a team working on about 16 new digital initiatives that are in various stages between conceptualisation and deployment.

BIAL also has an agreement with Unisys for the development of sophisticated algorithms that, over time, will use AI and ML capabilities to enable them to make informed and sophisticated decisions about every aspect of the business.

He further says, “This project is going to be central to the way we reshape our business, and our partnership with Unisys is structured over a five-year period that allows us to build up our ‘in-house’ capabilities over the course of the partnership. We strongly believe that in the future technology will be at the heart of airport operations.”


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