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CVG is using AI to predict passenger movement. For you, that means shorter lines

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Ann Thompson
CVG Director of IT and Innovation Stephen Saunders points to one of many data fields that the airport is using to predict passenger behavior and make adjustments to people don't have to wait in long lines.

A complicated computer formula may be the reason you are starting to move faster through lines at the Greater Cincinnati International Airport.

Layer by layer, CVG is adding pieces to its predictive passenger persona, the most recent of which is the University of Cincinnati’s artificial intelligence. The two have signed an agreement to work together on crowd prediction.

CVG’s Director of IT and Innovation Stephen Saunders is already seeing results.

“Airports have so many different data models and data sets that are accessible to them," he says. "As you think about the entire passenger journey — from the moment you booked your ticket to the moment the wheels leave the runway — there are data elements that are connected to all of that experience.”

That data is plugged into CVG’s EASE system — or Enterprise Assets Situational Exceptions — a patent-pending hardware and software program the airport began using in 2019.

CVG brought in UC aerospace doctoral student Javier Viaña to apply artificial intelligence to the system because there are so many variables like:

  • Will passengers park a car?
  • Will they check a bag?
  • Are they with a group?
  • When will they get food?

Using fuzzy logic, which is a kind of computer decision-making that relies on degrees of truth, it can predict surges of passengers in 15-minute increments.

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University of Cincinnati
UC aerospace doctoral student Javier Viaña uses fuzzy logic to help the airport predict passenger flow.

“The important thing here is to work with algorithms that are called noise resilient, which means we are able to work when there is noise in the data or even a big uncertainty," he says.

CVG has already started sharing the information with TSA and the airlines so they can adjust the workflow of employees and open more lanes.

“We’re not trying to step in and tell them how to do their job,” says Saunders. “We’re just trying to provide them access to data that maybe they don’t have and utilizing tools that can make their service better.”

Saunders sees airports getting smarter over time. Look for the technology to take off. Other U.S. airports have contacted CVG to find out more.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.