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Categories: Special ReportTechnology

Smile – You’re NOT on Candid Camera

Airports are discovering a more discreet way of watching your every move
If your intuition tells you that you’re being watched at an airport, you’re not wrong. Like most busy public venues today, airports and the Transportation Security Administration understand human surveillance is a critical aspect of public safety. However, it’s a practice that makes passengers feel a little uneasy nonetheless. Some view it as an invasion of privacy, while others worry about the information being collected about them and who sees it. These are very real and understandable concerns in today’s era of database hacks and rogue back-room behavior.

However, several airports around the United States are exploring a new way of following passenger journeys that watches more discreetly and protects people’s identity. McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, San Jose International Airport, Miami International Airport, and a handful of other forward-thinking airports are experimenting with something called LiDAR to monitor passenger flows and behaviors.

LiDAR is a 3D imaging technology best known for its application in autonomous vehicles. With it, airports can observe in real-time the flow of passengers through their facilities. This technology, which uses safe, invisible laser beams to detect objects both in motion and at rest, is more accurate than Bluetooth- or WiFi-based indoor location technology. LiDAR is also better at safeguarding passenger identities than stereoscopic cameras, which actually capture pixelated passenger images. In contrast, LiDAR converts positional data into anonymous 3D point cloud data, fully protecting passenger identities.

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