The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Soars in Operational Efficiency with TaskWatch and AWS Panorama

Executive Summary

Once one of the fastest-growing airports in North America, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) has made advanced technologies like computer vision (CV) a key component of its strategy to continually improve its operations and the traveler experience. With TaskWatch’s Attntiv CV application on AWS Panorama, CVG can notify staff of critical events in real time—such as congestion at passenger pick-up/drop-off zones or waiting on specific services for an aircraft on the tarmac that can lead to unnecessary flight delays.

Legacy Systems Had Staff Flying on Empty

As its business model changed from a transfer hub predominantly for business travelers into one that serves both business and leisure flyers, CVG had become one of the fastest-growing airports in the United States by both passenger and cargo volume. In 2019, CVG was serving the most local travelers ever since its opening, and it is now a point of entry and departure for 340 passenger planes per day.

Like most airports, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentytky International Airport (CVG) teams rely on radio communications and on-the-ground observers as the basis for many of their operations, from managing curbside traffic flow to on-time flight departures. As passenger and airplane traffic increases, additional risks are introduced to areas such as traffic congestion and curbside security or tarmac turnaround times that can result in flight delays and wasted jet fuel.

While CVG has internet protocol (IP) cameras across its 70,000 square foot bag claim curb frontage area, it depends on traditional methods to generate actionable business insights from streaming video data. As a result, CVG began experimenting with computer vision but found most solutions too complex and costly to deploy.

“We had real-time data to stay ahead of customer expectations, which took us from a 70% customer satisfaction rate to a 95%."

- Brian Cobb, Chief Innovation Officer at CVG

Piloting Smart Technology Takes Off at CVG

Brian Cobb, Chief Innovation Officer at CVG, wanted to work with a startup that would partner with the airport to build solutions—and that’s when he found TaskWatch. TaskWatch offers real-time AI analytics for CCTV feeds, which can learn behaviors and values, identify predetermined triggers established by the customer, and automatically generate action items through its traditional web application and to its wearable device platform.

To experience the full benefit of TaskWatch’s platform, CVG chose AWS Panorama, a collection of machine learning (ML) devices and a software development kit (SDK) that enables organizations to add CV to existing fleets of cameras and process video feeds at the edge. CVG decided to test run the solution using both TaskWatch and Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a six-month pilot.

“AWS came recommended by TaskWatch, which was a trusted provider for us. With AWS, we knew we’d have a tremendous amount of cloud computing and storage, which we needed for the sheer amount of video data we were producing every day. As an industry stalwart, AWS could mitigate cybersecurity risks, downtime, and system failures, and had the processing power we needed to engage edge computing,” Cobb said. “Combined with TaskWatch’s Attntiv’s zero-code flexibility to build and deploy custom computer vision applications, we’re finding the platform to be competitive over first-generation computer vision solutions.”

Upgrading Satisfaction Rates from 70% to 95%

CVG already had proven success with TaskWatch and IoT sensor integrations for restroom cleanliness purposes, a critical element to an airport’s overall customer satisfaction performance. “We had real-time data to stay ahead of customer expectations, which took us from a 70% customer satisfaction rate to 95%,” Cobb said. “Not only did we see immediate results, but it also helped us determine where we could make improvements by simply optimizing processes versus where we needed to make capital improvements. Over time, that’s a better use of dollars.”

This system proved especially useful during COVID-19, when the airport had fewer staff, could strategically open and close restrooms, and allocated labor more efficiently while reducing exposure.

Once TaskWatch introduced AWS Panorama into the equation, CVG identified two areas that needed immediate solutions: traffic on the tarmac and vehicle flow at curbside drop-off and pick-up. TaskWatch designed a computer vision traffic management system that runs on AWS Panorama, designated custom parameters for each problem, set visual cues, ran AI training, and established task-generating thresholds as defined by CVG. AWS Panorama would process video feeds, make predictions, and feed information into the TaskWatch platform. Because AWS Panorama enabled analysis to happen on the edge, alerts would go to employees’ wearables in real-time once a particular event occurred or a threshold was reached.

Creating a Faster Flow and Safer Airport with Data

As airport traffic grew, keeping cars moving through the curbside pick-up and drop-off area was not only a passenger experience concern, but also a safety issue. “With TaskWatch and AWS, we’re evolving and solving these problems,” Cobb said.

TaskWatch’s smart system analyzes traffic patterns and records how long a vehicle is in the area, predicting when congestion will become a problem. If a vehicle surpasses the preset thresholds for idling time, the TaskWatch platform automatically sends a task with vehicle information to the curbside attendant’s wearable.

The new system is resulting in more orchestrated traffic management, a safer airport, and is making it easier for attendants to do their job—without the constant cacophony of radio communications. “At the system’s core is our ability to see, analyze, and manage the data,” Cobb said.

Fewer Delays Save on Fuel Costs and CO2 Emissions

Preparing an aircraft for departure involves multiple jobs, siloed stakeholders, and keeping an eye on different processes. But a lack of unified visibility can result in longer turnaround times on the tarmac, causing passenger delays and excessive jet fuel usage.

CVG uses TaskWatch to identify events on the tarmac—such as cargo door opening and baggage loading—to trigger automated notifications and tasks to personnel. CVG can also loop the companies managing different tasks or multiple airlines into remote video feeds when they need to, helping staff prioritize next steps.

“AWS Panorama and TaskWatch together make it possible to correlate workflow patterns, teach the camera what it should be looking for, then understand what’s missing and determine how it will impact things like gate vacancies and delays,” Cobb said.

Since employing the solution on the tarmac, CVG has been able to increase real-time visibility, unify disparate communications, and begin early-stage discussions about sustainability efforts by reducing delays and jet fuel costs.

“Over a three-month period, we tracked a seven minute per-aircraft turn time reduction, which likely reduced auxiliary power fuel usage and therefore reduced CO2 emissions by five times,” Cobb stated. “And a collaborative approach between an airport and its airline partners betters operational relationships and improves environmental standards.”

Achieving a First-Class Experience with AWS and TaskWatch

CVG is applying the solution to other scenarios—including anomalies like unattended luggage or a passenger’s medical emergency.

“For any airport, avoiding slips, trips, and falls is a big concern,” Cobb said. “We will be able to detect when a fall has occurred, and automatically alert the right team to respond.”

Data-driven insights from TaskWatch have helped CVG identify areas of improvement. For example, data on passenger behavior shows that the airport needs clearer directional signage so passengers know they can take trains between the terminal and concourses instead of walking.

In CVG’s next wave of applications, the team will divide the airports into zones—like gates and concessions—and set up triggers such as overflowing garbage cans to improve housekeeping efficiency. And, the team is in the process of building an application for a better baggage claim experience. TaskWatch and AWS Panorama will help personnel know when to unload baggage from which flights and onto which carousel to prevent crowding around claims.

“Innovating to improve the passenger experience is one of our primary goals,” Cobb said. “AWS and Taskwatch have made that possible for us.”


About the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is a public international airport located in Hebron, Kentucky, serving the Cincinnati area.

About TaskWatch

TaskWatch offers a self-service Computer Vision Workflow platform to enable enterprise customers to design, build, and deploy custom CV applications and automated response workflows.

Published May 2022