The global pandemic has had an enormous impact on the airline industry. Airlines scramble to adapt to the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and make decisions to define their future and thrive in the “next normal.” 

I think we may find, despite whatever new restrictions and procedures are in place, that travel—at least while in the airport—has evolved to become easier in some ways. And it’s thanks in part to new 5G-powered solutions – a new standard in wireless telecommunications. 5G makes possible the connection and interaction of billions of devices and collection of data from those devices. 

The Brussels Airport, for example, is one of the first airports in Europe to install its own 5G-ready network. With 34 million passengers expected to travel through the airport by 2031, increased connectivity and the ability to track-and-trace are essential.  

Expect several airports to follow closely on Brussels’ heels. How do I know? Because I’m working on one of the solutions they’ll use, as part of Accenture’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) Business Group. We’ve built the 5G Edge Powered Connected Airport solution on 5G cellular network and edge compute technologies to give your airport experience a much-needed upgrade. 

Out with the old 

I used to travel a lot, pre-pandemic. And this was usually what my experience looked like. Long lines to check baggage or pass through security. Wasted time trying to find the kind of food I liked in airports I did not travel through frequently. I constantly see people losing their way due to insufficient navigation help in busy airports. My twins are now nine years old, but I remember all too well the frustration of traveling to my home country with them—trying to handle luggage, long queues and keep an eye on their whereabouts.  

I’m sure you can relate to at least one of these experiences. On average, in SeaTac international airport (my home airport), I easily spend more than an hour in security and boarding queues. 

No more, though. Thanks to our connected airport solution, you can shed some friction from your next trip. 

And in with the new 

With a solution created by AWS and Accenture, you’re provided your own digital concierge of sorts as you walk through the airport.  

When you walk in the doors, you get a text message welcoming you and providing directional support to the automated kiosk for check-in. As you arrive at the automated kiosk, it takes your picture and checks you into your flight—with no waiting and no hustling through your bag for ID.  

It takes the legwork out of figuring out which luggage drop-off area and security queue you should be in. And when you do reach the security queue, there’s no waiting. The more secure, 5G edge powered services run a background check instantly. Biometric authenticationincluding fingerprints, are an option at any stage. 

And if you want to eat before your flight, you can be directed to various restaurants and cuisines—and you’ll be reminded when it’s time to get the check because you’re close to your boarding time. 

A new level of security and reliability 

Not only will 5G airport solutions enhance the passenger experience, it will also help make travel more secure. From biometric checks to security in edge devices within the airport, it provides reliable connectivity. And it has a complete recovery plan for small or large outages. There’s no room for system failure in a system that must authenticate government records and personal information. Passenger safety is at risk. 

While travel for many of us is halted, we know we will get back to globetrotting at some point. Or at least back to visiting loved ones around the world. Isn’t it nice to know we’ll enjoy an improved airport experience—and better security—when we’re packing our bags again? 

I look forward to that time and to the continued innovations my team will help create in the interim. If you’d like to learn more about the work we do at Accenture’s Seattle Liquid Studio, take a look at this video on some of our recent projects. 

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“Not only will 5G airport solutions enhance the passenger experience, it will also help make travel more secure.”

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Lakshmi Kannan

Engineering Manager – Seattle Liquid Studio

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