For many travellers, a city’s aerodrome is the setting for their first encounter with a new country.

Whether they are tourists, business travellers, expatriates, or permanent settlers, the airport is the place where they get their first glimpse of the alien environment in which they have just landed. The subsequent experience of traversing through the wide-open spaces of these airports can offer a deeper look into the culture of the city and the spirit it wishes to represent.

In cities across the country, the capacity of Thailand’s airports is expanding. Powered by 5G ultra-high speed internet, emerging technologies like AI, sensors and data management serve as the central underlying workhorses that allow these so-called “smart airports” to provide ever higher numbers of passenger with a seamless and contactless airport experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also added impetus to the deployment of technology such as robotics, biometrics, temperature scanners and UV disinfection systems to ensure effective healthcare management at the airport.

The Ministry of Transport’s Department of Airports, Airports of Thailand Plc, the National Broadcast and Telecommunication Commission, and the country’s top ICT operators, have all played a part in ushering in the 5G network and the technological solutions that improve both service capacity and security in the country’s main airports. Regarded as a priority action, these technological developments support Thailand’s aim of enhancing the digital capacity of its overall economy and the capacity of the country’s airport ecosystem. These initiatives form part of the government’s plan to raise the standard of Thailand’s transportation system, not only to meet the changing needs of an increasing number of MICE and tourism visitors, but also to support the country’s aim of becoming a hub of modern industries in ASEAN, especially serving the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam).

The plan initially focuses on overhauling the digital capacity of the services and airport and aviation security in Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok as well as in airports serving key business and tourism destinations including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Songkhla, Krabi and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

As a strategic economic zone supporting the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, the EEC is served by U-Tapao International Airport. U-Tapao is equipped with ICT facilities that have the capacity to support the mobile applications, video analytics, computer and communication systems that can enhance the effectiveness of many services and improve the visitor experience overall.

Among the initiatives for U-Tapao International Airport, which is expected to serve 2-2.3 million visitors per year, is the plan to introduce WiFi6 technology, the latest Wi-Fi standard with the fastest speed. Connected to the airport’s security management system, thermal scanners will be used to screen passengers’ temperatures, while robots will be utilised to perform various tasks. The airport will also deploy smart video analytics and biometrics solutions, which will enhance the terminal management with intelligent image analysis and processing technology to improve the passenger experience and security standard. With its 5G network, the airport will be able to serve mobile applications and artificial intelligence robots that allow passengers to access aviation services and airport information in one app. The 5G network will also enable the airport to integrate the data management of its Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) equipment to enhance the efficiency of services such as luggage tracking and management, the airport cloud parking system and the automatic locker system.

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