Go with the flow

The Austrian Institute of Technology describes how it has developed three innovative technologies to improve passenger flows and wayfinding at airports


The key to a successful airport is to focus not only on single aspects of the customer experience, but on the whole customer journey. This comprises the journey to and from the airport as well as the understanding of how passengers interact with their environment and how visual information influences their orientation and navigation behaviour in the airport. The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology focuses on the key infrastructure issues of the future and has developed three innovative and comprehensive solutions to optimize the complete passenger journey.

Go with the flow – analysis of complex pedestrian flows

AIT’s solution SIMULATE analyses and predicts complex crowd movements in airports as well as in integrated areas like train stations, shopping areas or other relevant infrastructures and buildings you can imagine – the perfect tool for airport operators and planners. The fields of applications range from validation of architectural plans, evacuation analysis and safety assessment to detailed analysis and evaluation of shopping areas in combination with shop and retail data.

In addition to the analysis of complex pedestrian flows inside the building, AIT’s latest developments for SIMULATE enable to examine also possible impacts of connecting bus and tram station designs on the passenger flow already during the planning phase. By simulating the movement of passengers inside the buildings and the interaction with other passengers, in shared spaces like garages and pick-up- & drop-off-areas with other road users (e.g. cars) and the built environment, valuable information on the travel times, hotspots and bottlenecks can be identified. “SIMULATE is a very versatile tool which has already successfully been used in projects with big national partners”, pointed out Dr. Stefan Seer, AIT senior scientist.

On the right track – improved wayfinding systems and design performance using virtual reality

Wayfinding has to be an integral part of the design process to create more intuitive architectural spaces where passengers navigate intuitively. EXPERIENCE is a consulting service based on virtual reality technologies which offers a novel method for an interactive exploration and analysis of architectural models and designs before they are built.

The test environment based on virtual 3D models, combines immersive visual computing technologies with characteristic soundscapes and cutting-edge crowd simulations. The wayfinding experience is evaluated by quantifying passenger-oriented criteria in customized scenarios with representative user groups. As a result, the passenger wayfinding experience can be evaluated by quantifying several passenger-oriented aspects (detailed passenger-route-analysis, visibility of static and dynamic signage, etc.) in customized scenarios with a representative cross-section of user groups (age, nationality, etc.). Developed by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH, EXPERIENCE is the ideal solution for architects, operators of large infrastructure and public spaces, airport planners, and consultants. It supports architecture assessment and identifies issues upstream, reducing revision needs and delivering project cost savings. “This approach revolutionizes wayfinding planning processes, with acceptance testing of the facility visibility as a whole, or its subsystems and components”, quotes Dr. Stefan Seer.

Travel smarter – capturing multi-modal travel behaviour

How to get to and leave the airport in the most efficient and comfortable way is one of the most important questions of each traveller. AIT addresses this challenge with its technology Travel Mode Identification (TMI), which is an innovative software solution automatically identifying travel modes of people carrying a smartphone.

The technology can easily be integrated in existing smartphone-apps and automatically classifies eight different travel modes. No user intervention is required. Possible applications are e.g. simple and reliable mobility surveys, giving the airport valuable input on their passengers’ travel behaviour. “This is an important basis for monitoring and improving the connectivity of the airport – an important factor for the complete customer journey”, quotes DI (FH) Markus Ray, AIT senior research engineer.

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