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May 1, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:22am

5 things to know about London City Airport’s Internet of Things project

When will it be ready and is it profitable?

By Amy-Jo Crowley

London City Airport, which recently came under fire for making ‘no economic sense’, is the first airport in the world to test how the Internet of Things (IoT) can change a passenger’s experience of catching a flight.

From the ideas to the business model, CBR tells you five things you need to know about the project.

1. How does it work?

Retail developer Milligan and technology firm LivingPlanIt won £800,000 of funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) in March 2013 to create a network of sensors and data for existing passengers at London City.

Known as the Internet of Things, the technology allows a variety of devices or machines to communicate with each other in order to improve efficiency and costs.

Andrew Tyrer, lead technologist for digital at TSB, told CBR that the airport’s network will consist of interconnected sensors and other deployments that allow ready communication between TSB’s seven other IoT projects.

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"We built a model, called Hypercat, which shares data across different platforms. So LivingPlanetIt could go to any of the other seven projects we funded as long as they’re given permission," he explained.

"It’s only by sharing that data that the IoT will be successful and that’s one of the primary reasons we ran the competition the way we did. We’re encouraging them, in fact, making them interoperate."

2. What are the ideas?

The possibilities for IoT applications are endless, according to Tyrer, and include location tracking, measuring journey time and special offers.

The technology would run off Living PlanIT’s urban operating system, which enables apps and other digital tools to function.

For instance, passengers who pre-order food online or through their smartphone could have it delivered to them as they arrive at the departure lounge, while retailers can track when a passenger arrives at the airport, monitoring their behaviour to offer shoppers customised offers and ads.

Facial recognition software is also being used at London City, helping it monitor where passengers are and predict and prevent queues.

It can also track passengers and their luggage at the same time, so if you find yourself missing your plane, your luggage won’t get boarded.

"It’s all about presenting a better passenger journey in the airport. The more efficiently you can do that not only the better the passenger experience but the better the cost savings for the airport or the retailers," explained Tyrer.

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