Fewer queues, better planning and improved safety for inexperienced travelers. These are some of the advantages Copenhagen Airport has achieved since introducing the Spopos system that was developed in collaboration with the IT University.
Spopos is a system for indoor tracking of people as well as objects. The most common tracking technology is the GPS. GPS is satellite based and works well for outdoor tracking, but the technology is not suited for indoor use, because buildings, etc. cause interference to the signal from the satellites, thereby making it inaccurate.
Spopos solves this challenge. The system uses RFID-tags and Bluetooth to track persons and objects in the airport. When the travelers turn on their mobile phones, the staff monitor their movements in the building. This way, the airport can predict “bottlenecks” and avoid queues by opening extra counters. Meanwhile, the traveler can receive relevant information based on her location in the airport. E.g. If she is far away from the gate, and the plane is about to take off.
Spopos is a fine example of a context aware system. The IT system uses knowledge about the user’s context to supply information or services relevant to her needs. Obviously, this “surveillance” is voluntary. The user must sign up and download the Spopos program to her mobile phone. Therefore, the development of Spopos also had an element of sociology: When was the surveillance considered a help, and when was it considered a violation?
Spopos provides many possibilities for both operators and travellers in the airport. The airline companies can predict potentially critical situations and make sure that the passengers reach the gate in time. The airport achieves new knowledge on the movement patterns of the travelers in the airport. This knowledge can help them optimizing the arrangement and avoid queues. Also, the airport can keep better track of the inventory and ensure a better distribution of trolleys.
The travelers, on the other hand, get an improved traveling experience by receiving targeted, relevant information on their cellular phones. Inexperienced travelers who need extra support can sign up for the Tag Along service, that lets their relatives monitor their movements.
Not only airports can benefit from this technology. Crowd management, for example, can be made easier using indoor tracking. The invention has created interest in China, where Peking University is collaborating with the IT University on a related project called Genie.
The story of Spopos is a prime example of the way the researchers on the IT University work. The research is both insightful and useful. The researchers are motivated by both a quest for fundamental understanding and considerations of use.
The IT University wishes to put Denmark ahead in terms of creating value with it. Therefore, the researchers have a global perspective and a close collaboration with the business world. By producing high quality applied reseach with the best partners, we wish to create innovation and economic growth in Denmark.
Read more on Spopos here