Efficiency should be ensured for moving passengers quicker through immigration, baggage scanners and to the aircraft, all without compromising on security. Airports are more active than ever in adopting new and smart technologies and they are reaping the benefits with enhanced efficiencies, happier passengers, says Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, the organisers of the Airport Show, in an exclusive interview with Via Dubai.
Excerpts from the interview:
Dubai International Airport is expected to attract 103 million passengers by 2020. What are the accompanying challenges to security for handling this enormous number of passengers?
Even within the airport terminal, there can be kiosks where one can drop off their bags before you go to passport control. There can be automated baggage drop offs. It can be like this: You put the bag, it scans the bag, weighs it after you type in your PNR, and the bag goes through. You can then actually automate the process of scanning at the drop offs, collect the boarding pass and proceed through immigration to the retail and restaurants. This makes the entire process quicker, with less stress for the passengerand airport officials.
Passengers today are travelling through airports a lot more than they used to ten years ago and are happier to use new technologies that speed up the process and get them to the lounge areas quicker. They are also more aware of the security processes and challenges and smart technologies that give them more control in their own hands. Automated check in, baggage drop-off and immigration technologies that sped up the process are preferred by most travellers.
Reed Exhibitions, being a leading exhibition organiser, and particularly with the Airport Security zone at Airport Show, what are the priorities you give while selecting participants?
We hold a series of meetings with security authorities including Dubai Airport Police, Dubai Police, Immigration and Customs. We ask for their feedback on what are the challenges they face and technologies they seek and then visit leading international events to source these. We also have the largest global network of offices and partners who we engage to source the latest technologies in
their respective markets. The feedback we have received consistently puts the focus on efficiency. Security must be paramount, but efficiency should be ensured for moving passengers quicker through immigration, baggage scanning and to the aircraft, all without compromising on security.
Airports are more active than ever in adopting new and smart technologies and they are reaping the benefits with enhanced efficiencies, happier passengers, more time and money spent in retail and dining areas, which ultimately increase profitability in the long run.
What are the innovative technologies that you suggest to deploy to improve security and to offer a seamless passenger travel experience?
We should look at the security threats within the actual airport terminal, in the surrounding facilities (parking, runways, etc.) and cyberspace. There needs to be security equipment that can take care of all these threats, but at the same time process the passengers faster. There is very little room at most airports to increase the size of the screening areas, therefore we need to have equipment that can process the same amount of information but faster - only then we can increase the throughput.
With global passenger numbers expected to rise to 7.3 billion by 2034, airports need to ensure they are able to cope with the rising numbers, and, at the same time, offer seamless travel experience. Smart technologies can greatly help in delivering a hassle-free passenger experience that can put an airport ahead of its competitors.
What, according to you, are the ideal measures to simplify security checks at airports?
These include baggage drop-offs in the city for example. Lots of people prefer to drop off their baggage in the city, even several hours or the night before the flight, and avail quick check-in processes to go straight to the aircraft. With Emirates ID being used for immigration purposes, which is probablya world first, the process becomes so much simpler and faster. Another innovation would be security equipment that can do a full non-intrusive body scan without taking your shoes or belts off. There is a huge onus on leading global security manufacturers to provide fool proof technologies that can speed up airport security since the airports are happy to deploy these and passengers are happy to use them.
What are the ideal measures to simplify security check?
More of the airport security process must be automated, like we have seen with the Emirates ID being used at immigration, and aspects of security must be taken off site to reduce loads at the airport.