The heart of the airports pumps with IoT

Beatriz Sanz Baños    25 October, 2019

The total number of travellers in air transport increases each year in a remarkable way, giving rise to an expanding panorama of trips, comings and goings, and visits to hidden places. Thanks to technological progress distances are getting shorter and shorter and we are able to travel more kilometres in less time. Airplanes are the fastest transport today – they allow us to move from one continent in the same time as a bus trip to a nearby city – but they have not yet achieved the convenience and speed that travellers have on land.

At Telefónica, we believe in the enormous potential that technology can offer people and society. Technology must improve our lives by uniting people with the things that really matter to them. To this end, the Internet of Things is contributing to improve the user experience at airports, to increase operational efficiency, and generate new revenue.

The great advance with the smart airport is in the integration of the different parts of the airport ecosystem through the development of digital solutions, energy and acoustic sustainability, and excellence in the quality of passenger service.

AENA (Spanish Airports and Air Navigation) has established in its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan the project to move towards smart airports (Smart Airport) based on the following axes:


IoT at airports is primarily consumer oriented. It tries to streamline processes and simplify protocols to achieve a better user experience. How? By accelerating the entry and boarding procedures, offering personalized information in real time to travellers or establishing shorter and faster routes for users within the terminals.

The Dulles International Airport in Dallas was the first to implement the veriScanen system at its entrance doors. The program performed a biometric analysis of the passengers’ faces, and then collated the information collected by the cameras with the passport photograph, or the images collected in customs control in the case of foreign passengers. This system has been implemented in many airports recently and it has already replaced the traditional system with a success rate of 99% accuracy in its detection. In addition, it reduces the boarding time of passengers by half and offers a bonus for security as it is capable of detecting false passports.


The application of the Internet of Things in airports can also mean an increase in operational efficiency, facilitating the organization of personnel and maintenance of machinery, and consequently improving performance and cost savings in technical maintenance. It is applicable, for example, to the maintenance of carts and the monitoring of baggage systems by installing sensors that provide data like their location and performance levels, and then send them to a central server from where they can be managed. It will not take long to get on-track automation processes so that autonomous vehicles will deliver the luggage, clean the waste or carry out the refuelling.

The application of IoT technology in areas with lot of traffic of large quantities of people, such as airports, is increasing. Improving the user experience and respect for the environment have become the primary objectives of the Internet of Things, which will help to achieve with its digital solutions and process optimization. 

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