COVID-19: The need for resilience propels innovation

Guest Author by Guest Author | Jun 29, 2020

Written by David Lenot, Airport Application Group, Genetec and Cheryl Stewart, Airport Marketing Analyst, Genetec

Airports around the world have been confronted with a sudden change, steering them off regular scheduled programming. Airports are facing uncertainty and pressing decisions in order to get back on track as swiftly and smoothly as possible. Resiliency and reconstitution plans are all being put together to provide a clearer direction in terms of newly developed policies and next steps.

Emerging technologies implemented among airports

Questions arise on the types of technology airports can or should leverage to help them adapt to this new normal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several new technologies that have been developed such as thermal cameras for physical distancing sensors which help cater to the new health and safety requirements.

With new developments coming to fruition everyday, airports are faced with the challenge of what technology to invest in and whether it is worth implementing in the long run. Policies and requirements are set by government bodies on an ongoing basis, which also creates added pressure on resources in training staff on new developments.

A better way moving forward

Simply investing in a technology without proper evaluation of procedures and policies both within an organization or externally will only push businesses two steps behind rather than two steps forward. Before deploying any sort of technology, answering specific follow-up questions related to the outcome of the technology is vital.

ACI has said that any new measures that are introduced should be based on the latest data and medical evidence to ensure that they are effective.

Let’s take the thermal imaging technology as an example. Once a passenger is identified as having a temperature that is above normal, what are the next steps?

  • What do the local government guidelines say?
  • Should this passenger be re-tested?
  • Where should the passenger be taken?
  • Should they be quarantined?
  • What happens if it was a false positive?

A clear policy or procedure must be established prior to the purchase of a technology identifying potential questions and problems ahead of time which allows all stakeholders to be on board with the product from start to finish.

Airports need solutions that are flexible, adaptable, and able to change on demand to avoid potential dilemmas.

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Searching for a solution that fits long-term needs

There are many ways in which technologies can provide support to airports today. Repurposing existing technologies to serve new needs is a great way to support the current crisis. The following are tips to consider when deciding on investing in COVID-19 facing technologies:

1. Set policies and procedures before leveraging technology

To combat the evolving policy updates by the government, having a collaborative decision-making tool that is flexible enough  to set, reset, and change digitized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as needed will greatly improve operational efficiency.

By adding the most up to date SOPs directly into the security system, any operator can have the confidence in taking the right actions following the set processes and compliance requirements according to the situation.

2. Add functions to your existing technology investments

When passenger traffic was predicted to double in 20 years, airports invested in different types of analytics to make data driven decisions to enhance airport operations, reduce wait time, and improve passenger flow. Lidar technology was among the most accurate analytics technology used to count people and provide insights on area occupancy. With the current circumstances, Lidar sensors has also shown to be a useful technology for measuring physical distancing given its ability to geographically locate objects on a map. Airports can now leverage this capability with their existing Lidar sensors to validate physical distancing measures that has been put in place in airports. Apart from the immediate corrective actions that can take place with the information attained on the area occupancy and passenger distance in the airport, data accumulated may also be used to improve terminal layout in the long run.

Closely evaluate existing investments. Can they be leveraged or improved to provide expanded functionalities? Reaching out to technology partners to brainstorm new ideas is a great place to start.

3. Repurpose technologies beyond the pandemic

When deciding on whether to invest in new technologies it is important to  ensure the technologies that are chosen can be repurposed beyond the pandemic. Investing in technologies that provide multi-purpose functionalities that can be used in different circumstances is key. As an example, Lidar sensors works efficiently as a tool to measure occupancy and physical distancing, and it also happens to be one of the best intrusion detection sensors available on the market.

Many airports have invested in thermal imaging sensors as a way to ensure safe travel, these thermal sensors may also be leveraged as a “back to work” measure for employees before granting their access into the airport. An elevated body temperature could prevent them access to the site and prompt a notification asking them to visit the healthcare department for further investigation preventing a potential outbreak or spread. With this measure in place, employees in the workplace will statistically have a lower risk in being contaminated by their colleagues.  

All aboard safe travel

Technology can create additional barriers in mitigating the risk of exposure to the virus.  With strong collaboration and communication among all stakeholders, airports can limit the spread and exposure on a global level. In this way, passengers and staff will feel confident that travelling is safe and that airports have prioritized their health.


David Lenot leads the Airport Application Group of Genetec. With his team, he is redefining the way Airports leverage Genetec solutions to not only increase their security, but also improve their operations and generate more revenue. In this strategic role, David is responsible for developing new features, solutions, and working with industry organizations as well as engage with ends users from around the globe.


Cheryl Stewart is the Airport Marketing Analyst at Genetec. Her main responsibility is to develop go-to-market strategies by conducting market research and analysis to better understand the needs of airport end users across the globe. She has close to 4 years experience in business analysis and customer service in the aviation industry.

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