Pittsburgh’s deployment of AI won’t make security queues shorter, but it will certainly set passenger expectations and could boost airport spend
There have been lots of positives for Pittsburgh International airport since US Airways dropped the airport as a hub in the middle of the last decade. Now, 15 years on and just like the famous steel city’s own business renaissance, the airport has witnessed record demand growth having successfully rebuilt itself from a hub operation to supporting what has become a booming O&D market.
There have been a few blips along the way; in the past year WOW air collapsed and Delta Air lines ended its Paris connection this summer, a route that for a long time was its sole non-stop connection to Europe. But, British Airways has returned a regular London link and Condor maintains a seasonal Frankfurt flight.
After year-on-year traffic rises of +8.2% in 2017 and +7.5% in 2018 levels have slipped to +2.4% for the first five months of 2019, still the third highest rate this decade and will move the airport close to the 10 million passenger milestone for the full year.
With Pittsburgh emerging has a tech-centre, the airport is also increasingly working to incorporate technology innovations into its campus to benefit it increasing footfall. One such addition through a partnership between its operator Allegheny County Airport Authority and local software firm Zensors, is using camera infrastructure and artificial intelligence (AI) to educate passengers to potential security check delays, helping adjust expectations.
Turning existing cameras into smart IoT sensors, the business, spun out of Carnegie Mellon University – the birthplace of AI – is able to provide actionable business insights. With the feeds piped into its general-purpose, AI-vision pipeline, its software is able to report the state of the environment with human-level accuracy.
In Pittsburgh International’s case this will provide a live update on estimated wait times at the airport’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. This information is posted on the airport’s flight information screens and website, including predictions about whether wait times will increase or decrease.