Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has launched a pilot program using innovative technology to provide social distancing information and assessment for customers at a security checkpoint. The project uses Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology and sophisticated software from partner CrowdVision to monitor, analyze and report on physical distancing at the airport’s B security checkpoint. The system notifies customers when social distancing is adequate and encourages greater physical separation if needed.
“Safe, healthy travel remains our priority,” said Ricky Smith, executive director of BWI Marshall Airport. “Since the outset of the pandemic, BWI Marshall Airport has implemented many measures to help protect passengers and employees. This innovation provides real-time data on passenger flow so we can notify travelers and manage separation.”
Under the pilot program, LiDAR-enabled sensors analyze passenger movements at the B checkpoint in real-time, counting people and measuring their speed and direction of movement. The motion analytics software calculates physical distancing information and provides easy-to-understand notifications for passengers and airport management. When passengers are providing good physical distancing, the system generates a positive message at the B checkpoint monitor. If passengers are too close together for too long a period of time, the system presents a reminder of social distancing guidelines.
“Our software solution helps BWI Marshall Airport improve their passengers’ travel experience and, more importantly, keeps them safe and gets them flying again,” said Mike Cunningham, president of CrowdVision.
BWI Marshall Airport was among the first global airports to use LiDAR to monitor and report on security wait-times to help improve the passenger experience. LiDAR is the same laser-mapping technology used in autonomous vehicles. The technology uses safe, invisible pulsated laser light to detect objects, both in motion and at rest. Wait-time information produced from the system has been displayed at the airport’s four security checkpoints and the BWI Marshall Airport website since 2019.
“The use of LiDAR technology to promote social distancing helps keep our customers safe and gives them comfort and confidence as they travel through BWI Marshall,” Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Greg Slater said. “This innovative system is another way we’re focusing on the health and safety of the public, our partners and our MDOT team.”
As more people return to travel during the COVID-19 recovery, the BWI Marshall Airport terminal remains closed except for ticketed passengers and employees. Face coverings are required in the airport. Other health and safety initiatives at the airport include enhanced cleaning and sanitation, hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the terminal, protective barriers at customer-facing locations, and physical distance markers in high-traffic areas. Health and safety information is provided on information displays and overhead announcements.