Helsinki Airport to Feature World’s First Real Time Passenger Tracking System

Whether you call it an amazing technological breakthrough or the dawn of an Orwellian age depends on your point of view, but The London Telegraph informs us that Helsinki Airport will be the first airport in the world to feature a real time passenger tracking system.

All mobile phones logged into the airport’s network will be tracked to identify their owners’ real time location. Furthermore, passengers with phones logged into the airport’s network will be able to receive location based promotions and information, such as advertisements and coupons for nearby retailers in the airport. This will occur when passengers “opt-in” to the system, causing the participating passengers to have eligibility to an airline app, a retail app, and other features yet to be unveiled.

Helsinki Airport from above.
Helsinki Airport from above.

Heikki Koski, vice president in charge of new services at Finavia, told Bloomberg that, “We’re looking at great paybacks from this investment.” Mr. Koski went on to tell Bloomberg that the new system will have some distinct advantages. He said that by using the new system, “We can manage the airport better, we can predict where bottlenecks might come and analyze everything more thoroughly.”

The London Telegraph informs us that the new real time passenger tracking system at Helsinki Airport will operate by using a series of 150 white boxes, each about the size of a wireless router, stationed at various points around the airport. The white boxes will then obtain the unique identifier numbers of all mobile phones with Wi-Fi access enabled. Passengers will be notified of the network before they are presented with the option to “opt-in.”

Helsinki Airport’s real time passenger tracking system has raised concerns among privacy advocates. The airport hosts 15 million passengers per year, raising eyebrows in regards to the amount of private data the system will be able to access. Finavia Oyi (the Finnish Civil Aviation Administration that operates Helsinki Airport) told the London Telegraph that all data mined from passenger cell phones will be viewed only in aggregated form. The administration further said that passengers’ unique cell phone identifier numbers will be discarded by the system and that passengers’ personal information will not be viewed by Finavia.

Understandably, the new real time passenger tracking system’s abilities aren’t being met with enthusiasm by everyone. Antti Tikkanen, director of security response at software maker F-Secure Oyj, told Bloomberg that, “The fact that my movements are tracked is a scarier thought than someone knowing which websites I visit.” Tikkanen’s point is well taken, and as privacy rights appear to by eroding the world over, the Inquisitr informs us that there are those out there advocating the development of anti-surveillance technology.

Until then, passengers traveling through Helsinki Airport can look forward to big brother keeping an eye on their every move in real time.