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Title:
SYSTEM FOR MANAGING AND CONTROLLING THE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE AND/OR GOODS INSIDE OF EQUIPPED AREAS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/015709
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a management and control system comprising, in combination: at least one check-in terminal connected to a management and control centre, which is equipped with means designed to store the data for recognition of the passenger on purposely provided transponders to be affixed to the luggage and to the embarkation card; as well as at least one first electronic gate for the people and the hand luggage and at least one second electronic gate for the luggage accompanying the passenger, located at the check-in desk; and at least one third electronic gate for the passengers and hand luggage at a point corresponding to the entry hatch to the aeroplane and at least one fourth electronic gate for the luggage accompanying the passenger at a point corresponding to the loading hatch of the aeroplane. Said management and control centre, connected to the gates and check-in terminals, verifies the effective matching between the data contained in the transponders affixed to the luggage and the embarkation card, issuing a warning in real time in the event of any possible discordance.

Inventors:
MATTEI LAMBERTO (IT)
Application Number:
IT2006/000602
Publication Date:
February 07, 2008
Filing Date:
August 04, 2006
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BIANCHI GIORGIO (IT)
MATTEI LAMBERTO (IT)
International Classes:
G06Q10/00; G07C9/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2002015115A12002-02-21
WO2003096282A12003-11-20
WO2003075216A12003-09-12
Foreign References:
US6108636A2000-08-22
US20050083171A12005-04-21
FR2844901A12004-03-26
FR2281176A11976-03-05
DE10003314A12001-08-02
US7030760B12006-04-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SARPI, Maurizio (Via Collina 36, Roma, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CIAIMS

1. A system for managing and controlling the movement of people and/or goods within equipped areas, such as for example an airport, characterized in that it comprises, in combination:

- at least one terminal or check-in desk connected to a management and control centre, which is equipped with means designed to store the recognition data of a passenger on purposely provided transponders to be affixed to the luggage and to the embarkation card;

- at least one first electronic gate (Gl) for people and hand luggage, located at the check-in desk;

- at least one second electronic gate (G2) for the luggage accompanying the passenger, located at the check-in desk;

- at least one third electronic gate (G3) for the passengers and hand luggage located at the entry hatch to the aeroplane; and - at least one fourth electronic gate (G4) for the luggage accompanying the passenger located at the loading hatch of the aeroplane; said management and control centre being connected to said gates and check-in terminals for receiving and transmitting data, and being designed to check the effective matching between the data detected by the transponders affixed to the luggage and to the embarkation card during their transit through the gates themselves, issuing a warning in real time of any possible discordance.

2. The system according to the preceding claim, characterized in that it comprises, at the check-in point, at least one electronic gate (Gl) dedicated to the entry of the passengers and of the possible hand luggage into an area reserved to departing passengers, and at least one electronic gate (G2) dedicated to the entry of the luggage accompanying the passenger (for the hold) into the area reserved to departing luggage.

3. The system according to Claim 1 or Claim 2, characterized in that said electronic gates are designed to read the data contained on purposely provided RFID tags of a known type that have been associated and applied to the usual embarkation card of the passenger and to the corresponding and well-known labels that are affixed to the passenger' s luggage, including hand luggage, and to issue a warning, upon indication by the management* and control centre, of any possible incongruence or anomalies at the passage of the passenger and/or of the corresponding luggage; said anomalies comprising: entry into the aeroplane of unforeseen passengers and/or luggage, absence of passengers and/or luggage at the moment of departure, passage of a passenger with a piece of luggage not corresponding to the passenger's embarkation card. 4. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that, the control of passenger/luggage matching comes about in real time; in fact, all the gates are connected together and/or with a data-processing centre of the management and control centre via wired connectio'n (e.g., ethernet) or via

wireless connection (wireless network) , enabling the staff responsible to check immediately the anomalies, dedicating themselves exclusively to these checks.

5. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the RFID electronic gates are equipped with presence/passage detectors of a known type, such as for example photoelectric cells, laser or microwave or infrared sensors, etc., designed to issue a warning at the passage of people or goods without RFID tags; the use of said presence/passage sensors also enabling detection of the direction in which the gate is passed through, i.e., entry or exit.

6. The system according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the width of the electronic gates is sufficient to enable passage of a single person at a time .

7. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that for managing proper sorting of the luggage equipped with RFID tags along the conveyor belts that convey it from the check- in point to the finger of the aeroplane or to the trucks that carry it, along the runway, from the terminal to the aeroplane, envisages purposely provided turnstiles or deviators arranged along the path of the luggage belt, which are actuated via said central management and control unit.

8. The system according to the preceding claim, characterized in that as soon as the luggage is recognized by the luggage gate (G2), the management and

control centre calculates the time required for it to reach the deviator corresponding to its destination, according to the speed of the conveyor belt, then operating the turnstile or deviator at the appropriate moment .

9. The system according to Claim 7, characterized in that pre-arranged along the path of the luggage are a series of further electronic gates (G5) so that the management and control centre carries out actuation of said turnstiles or deviators exactly when each piece of luggage goes past the deviator corresponding to its destination.

10. The system according to the preceding claim, characterized in that said further gates (G5) are located in a position corresponding to the deviators or turnstiles that are activated by the central management and control unit connected thereto, as soon as a piece of luggage that is to be deviated passes through the gate corresponding to the destination of the luggage itself.

11. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that, to retrace the luggage very quickly, it envisages palm-tops or portable readers of a known type to enable the staff responsible to look for a piece of luggage by simply passing said portable reader over the luggage that is parked in the luggage area or that has been loaded onto an aeroplane: as soon as the range of action of the reader detects the presence of the luggage sought, the operator just has to approach it to identify it

immediately.

12. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that, to control access into said equipped area, it envisages further electronic gates installed at all the access points to the area itself, designed to read the data contained on purposely provided electronic "passes" that can be easily carried by each of the people that have to or wish to gain access to the area itself; in each of said electronic "passes" there being stored the identification data and biometric recognition data of the person that carries it. *

13. The system according to the preceding claim, characterized in that, to carry out tracing of all the people present within said area, it envisages a series of RFID antennas arranged along the paths of the area itself; said tracing being performed by identifying each pass via its own serial number assigned by the manufacturer . 14. The system according to Claim 12 or Claim 13, characterized in that said passes are issued in the proximity of the access points to the controlled area, carrying out a preliminary check of the contents of the luggage, or else are dispensed by purposely designed issuing machines made available in the immediate vicinity of the access gates.

15. The system according to any one of Claims 12 to 14, characterized in that the data that stored on said passes comprise: demographic data, identity- document number, fingerprints or retinal scans,

photograph, etc.

16. The system according to any one of Claims 12 to 15, characterized in that, during the check-in operations, there are further stored on said passes also the data corresponding to the flight, gate, ticket, and luggage, so that the passenger can be immediately notified in the event of him taking the wrong gate or entering an area for which he is not authorized (such as, for example, international-flight area whereas his destination is national) .

17. The system according to any one of Claims 12 to 16, characterized in that each electronic gate is provided with a turnstile for access to the next area; thus achieving prevention/authorization of passage of the person according to whether the data stored on the pass correspond to those of the area that he is attempting to enter and to the biometric characteristics of the person himself.

18. The system according to Claim 1, characterized in that, in the case where the luggage is loaded on board via an automatic ramp-loader, said fourth electronic gate (G4) is installed on the ramp- loader itself and is connected via wireless/Ian connection to the control centre, which stops the ramp- loader in the case where there is detected the presence of a piece of luggage the transponder of which contains data not corresponding to the aeroplane on which it is being loaded.

19. The system according to Claim 1, characterized in that, in the case where the luggage is

loaded by hand, the staff responsible for loading pass it through said fourth gate (G4), which is constituted by a portable gate, connected via wireless connection with the management centre, that signals in real time detection of luggage not corresponding to the aeroplane on which it is being loaded.

20. The system according to Claim 1, characterized in that, in the case where the luggage is loaded by hand, the staff responsible for loading check it piece by piece with a palm-top of a known type connected via wireless to the management centre, so as to be certain that they are not loading luggage that is intended for another plane.

Description:

SYSTEM FOR MANAGING AND CONTROLLING THE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE AND/OR GOODS INSIDE OF EQUIPPED AREAS

*****

The present invention relates in general to the transport sector, and more specifically to a system designed to enable recognition of people and/or goods that circulate within a pre-defined area. According to the invention, to carry out said recognition, recourse is had to the known technology of radio-frequency identification, better known in the sector by the acronym RFID.

Transponders, i.e., the devices which, when interrogated, issue an identification code and/or other useful data, form by now part of everyday reality: they are used in security systems on board aeroplanes, in motorway payment systems ("Telepass") or in anti-theft systems. The current electronic technology enables radio-frequency transponders to be obtained that are as thin as a label (for this reason, they are referred to as "tags") and are of extremely low cost, suited to a multiplicity of new applications. These are RFID tags, which enable enormous extension of the capacity for controlling and tracing people, goods and animals.

The problem of identification of every item that is produced, warehoused, sold, shipped and delivered would seem by now to have been solved for some time thanks to the ubiquitous presence of bar-codes. In fact, it is by now extremely difficult to find an object that is without one. It should, however, be

noted that this curious "hieroglyphic", which arose from a process of standardization that started thirty- years ago and has led to EAN (European Article Numbering) coding, albeit presenting many advantages such as simplicity and the extremely low cost of the labels, suffers from some disadvantageous characteristics that limit use thereof. It suffices to think of the operation of a normal cash register of a supermarket in order to understand that bar-code labels are to be read one at a time, that they must be clear and visible to enable optical reading thereof, and that operation thereof is to be activated and controlled by an operator.

The above limits could be eliminated by using RFID technology, i.e., identification of goods (but also of animals and people) by means of labels that can be read at a distance with a radio-frequency signal. Since RFID is an electromagnetic technology, it enables reading of the identity of objects even if these are not visible by the reader and even for a number of objects simultaneously (it is possible to detect immediately the quantities contained within a truck and trailer loaded with freight that transits through purposely provided entry/exit gates) . If to this is added the fact that the reading operation can take place from a distance of several metres and without involving special staff, it may be understood how the RFID technology is rapidly gaining consensus and is already used in even markedly different contexts, such as military corps and fashion houses.

An RFID system requires at least three fundamental components: an antenna, a tr-ansceiver with decoder, and a transponder (which is referred to as RF tag) to be attached to the product as if it were a bar-code. Stored in the transponder are at least the data that identify the product itself. When the tag is brought up to the antenna, the signal emitted by the latter activates both the RFID tag and the transceiver, which reads the data written in the tag and communicates them to the central system.

There exist many types of antennas, for example inserted in manual readers, which behave more or less as traditional bar-code readers or else which can be inserted in gates for reacting to the passage of people who are carrying goods.

According to the characteristics of the system, the range of action can vary from a couple of centimetres to some thirty metres. As regards the tags, according to the uses to which they are put, they can be active or passive. The former have an on-board battery and are suited for applications such as checking on access of staff. They can store up to 1 MB of data, and the contents can be overwritten.

Passive tags, which are, instead, without batteries of their own, are supplied by the same radio waves as those emitted by the reader/antenna. They are much lighter than active tags, cost very little and have a practically unlimited, duration.

They are of a read-write type, i.e., the data can be read and updated, and typically contain from 32 to

128 bits, a storage capacity that is sufficient to identify all the individual products even of a gigantic supermarket and all the travellers inside stations or airports . The applications of RFID technologies are extremely numerous; some are already operative, others are already in the experimental stage. The technological evolution enables now further extension of the field of application of RFID. Units are being experimented that use the cellular network or other geographical networks for applications to containers, which in this way are traceable over extremely long distances, even when they are moving and not only when they are located in a depot. New types of applications become moreover possible, such as georeferenced location (via triangulation of the signals of the cellular base stations) and continuous monitoring of the conditions of the goods, via interfacing with a purposely provided sensor network. The first experiments with this type of long-distance RFID will probably be carried out on high-range containers, under controlled conditions (as regards humidity and temperature) .

Other applications of RFID, with the use of passive transmitters of extremely low cost (15 cents per unit, which is to be compared to the value of container products, which is 20 dollars or more, are extending to installation on individual packages of goods. The major distribution chains are moving decidedly towards the generalized use of RFID tags up

to the point where they condition their own suppliers to make use thereof. For the moment the tags will be read-only tags, i.e., they will be installed on the package directly by the manufacturer and cannot be further modified. Already with this technology the estimates of the possible savings in managing warehouses range from a minimum of 7.5% a year, with a further saving of 5% in the amount of goods that are stored in order to compensate for errors and write-offs due to the current methods of manual detection, up to a maximum of 20%.

The further evolution of RFID technologies in handling individual goods would permit surprising applications. The first step, which is simply represented by a passage to a mass production thereof, will enable a reduction in the cost of RF tags to one third of the current cost down to approximately 5 cents given the same technology. This will enable use of tags on goods having a unit value (???and [?plus] margin) that is much lower than what is practicable today. In the second place, there will be a passage to tags that are also writable via RF, a fact that will enable modification of the parameters of the goods as they pass through the distribution chain. The final aim, which is as disquieting as it is fascinating, is insertion of the tag within the structure of the goods.

A first step has already been taken in this direction, with the tags without microprocessor, which reflect the radio waves that impinge thereupon, distorting them, and in this way supply some

information on the goods to which they are applied. A second step is already being applied experimentally and is based upon integrated microchips of extremely small dimensions, approximately three times the thickness of a hair.

Currently, there is an extremely wide distribution all over the world of national and international,

European and U.S., standardization bodies which define rules and standards of minimum level of adherence and requirement with which these technologies must comply.

It should be noted that, up to the present date, the frequency of 13.56 MHz is one amongst the most widely used at a world-wide level for RFID applications, a very interesting element from the applicational standpoint in so far as it means a considerable exportability of the applications. In addition, since it is a very low frequency, it is totally acceptable from the environmental standpoint (so much so that WWF itself admits it for tracing protected animal species) . Furthermore, it is one of the few frequencies accepted also in the hospital context. The fact of not generating interference on medical equipment is of very great interest from the standpoint of tracing of g\oods and people. In other words, the frequency of 13.56 MHz is the most indicated for applications in the hospital and environmental contexts, is usable at a world-wide level and is supported by international standards, in addition to being a frequency that is immune to disturbance and that does not interfere with other electronic products

(ISM - Industrial, Scientific & Medical - frequency) .

The storage capacity of current chips enables storage also of the biometric information necessary for personal identification, and this is particularly useful in the field of applications for security and control of the territory, for the purpose of vigilance against terrorism especially in the airport sector.

From what has been said above, it emerges clearly how one of the sectors that can draw most advantage from the use of RFID technology is the sector of the transport of people and goods, in which traceability enables improvement in the distribution of the goods and increase in security.

In this connection, it is worthwhile recalling that in airports cases of loss of luggage are unfortunately very frequent, the causes of which can be multiple and are often fortuitous, and hence difficult to eliminate.

Only too well-known is, in fact, the occurrence of errors in sending luggage accompanying the passenger, with the consequence that the passenger arrives at his destination and, only at the moment when he goes to the conveyor belt to pick up his own luggage, does he realize that his luggage has got lost. At this point, there starts a series of inconveniences and problems for the unfortunate person: in fact, he must first of all report the loss of his luggage, and only in the following days - after a search performed by the travel company - will it be possible for him to receive his own luggage. In the best of cases, the luggage arrives

intact, but frequently it does not arrive at all or it is delivered with serious damage or lack of its original contents. It is evident that such inconveniences are really serious and only the most fortunate cases entail only a delay in delivery of the luggage, which had erroneously been shipped to the wrong destination.

Another aspect to be considered is represented by the fact that, if a passenger is forced not to leave for an unexpected problem that has arisen after he has checked in and after corresponding consignment of the luggage, his luggage could be shipped even so, unless, thanks to the current anti-terrorism measures, the departure of the aeroplane is prevented until the luggage has been unloaded from the hold, with evident delays and inconvenience for the departing passengers.

It is consequently evident that it would be highy desirable to be able to guarantee, on the one hand, that each passenger and his own luggage board effectively the right aeroplane, and on the other hand, that the passenger does not leave without his luggage or vice versa. In other words, it is desirable to be able to guarantee the so-called passenger/luggage "matching". Another important aspect, which relates in particular to the security of airports, lies in the fact that it is somewhat difficult, if not impossible, to control the displacements of people within an airport, or else to check that a person will not load on the aeroplane a piece of luggage without he himself

boarding the same aeroplane or a corresponding aeroplane .

In addition to this, currently it is not possible to control and/or trace the movements of the goods or luggage - even after check-in - within the airport area along the way that takes to the aeroplanes to which they are to be sent.

Consequently, a first purpose of the invention is to be able to check that each passenger that has checked in actually boards the right aeroplane, together with his own possible luggage, whether it is hand luggage or luggage accompanying him.

A second purpose of the invention is to prevent a piece of luggage from leaving by itself or remaining on the ground whereas its owner boards the aeroplane.

The above purposes are achieved, according to the present invention, by envisaging a management and control system comprising, in combination: at least one check-in terminal connected to a management and control centre, which is equipped with means designed to store the data for recognition of the passenger on purposely provided transponders to be affixed to the luggage and to the embarkation card; as well as at least one first electronic gate for the people and the hand luggage and at least one second electronic gate for the luggage accompanying the passenger, located at the check-in desk; and at least one third electronic gate for the passengers and hand luggage at a point corresponding to the entry hatch to the aeroplane and at least one fourth electronic gate for the luggage accompanying the

passenger at a point corresponding to the loading hatch of the aeroplane. According to the invention, said gates are in communication with one another and with the check-in terminal and are designed to analyse the data contained in the transponders affixed to the luggage and to the embarkation card during their transit through the respective gates, verifying effective matching and issuing a real-time warning in the event of any possible discordance. The above and further purposes will be better understood from the following detailed description with reference to the figures of the attached plate of drawings, which show, purely by way of non-limiting example, a preferred embodiment of the invention. In the plate drawings:

- Figure 1 is a diagram of a first embodiment of the invention; and

- Figure 2, which is similar to the previous one, represents a variant of the invention. With reference to Figure 1, the management and control system according to the invention envisages, at the check-in point, at least one electronic gate Gl dedicated to entry of the passengers and of the possible hand luggage in an area reserved to departing passengers, and at least one electronic gate G2 dedicated to entry of the " luggage accompanying the passenger (for the hold) in the area reserved to the departing luggage. Likewise, provided at a point corresponding to the entry hatch for the passengers and to the loading hatch of the aeroplane are respective

electronic gates G3 and G4.

According to a peculiar characteristic of the invention, said electronic gates are designed to read the data contained on purposely provided RFID tags that have been associated and applied to the usual embarkation card of the- passenger and to the corresponding and well-known labels that are affixed to the passenger's luggage, including hand luggage, and to issue a warning for any possible incongruences or anomalies at the passage of the passenger and/or of his luggage. As has already been mentioned, the use of these RFID tags makes it possible to check that both the passenger and his possible luggage actually get onto the right aeroplane, a warning being issued in the event of possible entry into the aeroplane of unforeseen passengers and/or luggage.

According to a further peculiar characteristic of the invention, the check for passenger/luggage matching comes about in real time. In fact all the gates are connected together and/or to a data-processing centre of the management and control centre via wired connection (e.g., ethernet) or else via wireless connection (wireless network) , enabling the responsible staff to check immediately any anomalies dedicating themselves only to said checks.

According to the invention, it is preferable for the RFID electronic gates to be equipped with presence/passage detectors of a known type, such as for example photoelectric cells, laser or microwave or infrared sensors, etc., which signal the passage of

people or goods not provided with- RFID tags. The use of said presence/passage sensors enables also detection of the direction in which the gate is traversed, i.e., entry or exit. For what has been said, it is expedient for the width of the electronic gates to be sufficient to enable passage of just one person at a time.

With the use of said RFID tags applied to the luggage accompanying the passenger, it is advantageously possible to manage proper sorting of the luggage along the conveyor belts that conveys it from the check-in point to the finger of the aeroplane or to the trucks that convey them, along the runway, from the terminal to the aeroplane. Said sorting can be readily obtained by actuating, via said central management and control unit, the turnstiles or deviators arranged along the path of the luggage belt. In order to do this, as soon as the luggage is recognized by the luggage gate G2, it is sufficient to calculate the time required (which is a function of the speed of the conveyor belt) for it to reach the deviator corresponding to its destination.

To have a more precise check, especially in the case where the check-in is made a long time before departure, it is preferable to provide a series of further electronic gates G5 along the path of the luggage, preferably in a position corresponding to the deviators or turnstiles that are activated by the central management and control unit connected thereto, as soon as a piece of luggage that is to be deviated

passes through the gate corresponding to its destination.

From what has been said, it is clear how the system described herein enables also any luggage lost to be retraced very quickly. In fact, it is sufficient to provide palm-tops or portable readers of a known type to enable the staff responsible for looking for a piece of luggage by simply passing said portable reader over the luggage that is parked. As soon as the range of action of the reader detects the presence of the luggage sought, the operator simply has to approach closer to it in order to identify it immediately.

An operation of this sort, for example, can be useful in the case where a passenger with accompanying luggage checks in and subsequently does not board the corresponding aeroplane: in this case, it would be very simple and fast to retrace and unload the luggage that had already been loaded in the hold.

The inventive idea underlying the invention can be applied for managing with greater effectiveness security within an equipped area, even when the area is extremely vast.

To remain in the airport context (Figure 2) , it is advantageously possible to check any access by providing electronic gates of the type described herein at all the access points for access to the airport and envisaging that all the people that have to or wish to gain access to the airport area are equipped with purposely provided electronic "passes" in which the identification data and biometric recognition data of

the person are stored. The pass can be constituted by a badge, a bracelet or any other object that can be easily carried by the user.

From what has been said, it is evident that by providing a series of RFID antennas along the paths of the airport a tracing of all the people present therein can be readily obtained. This can be performed by identifying each pass via its own serial number assigned by the manufacturer. During issuing of said passes, it is also possible to carry out a preliminary check on the contents of the luggage, such as, for example, for the presence of explosives, drugs, etc.

Said passes can be also dispensed by purposely designed issuing machines made available in the immediate vicinity of the access gates.

The data that are stored on said passes may comprise: demographic data, identity-document number, fingerprints or retinal scans, photograph, etc. In the case where the passengers are provided with said passes, at the check-in point also the data corresponding to the flight, gate, ticket and luggage will be further stored thereon, so that the passenger can be immediately notified in the case where he is taking the wrong gate or enters an area for which he is not authorized (such as, for example, an international- flight area when his destination is national) .

The security is guaranteed by the fact that, by associating to each electronic gate a turnstile for access to the next area, it is possible to

prevent/authorize passage of the person according to whether the data stored on the pass correspond to those of the area that he is attempting to enter and to the biometric characteristics of the person himself. It is worthwhile noting that, in the case where the luggage is loaded on board via an automatic ramp- loader, the latter will be equipped with an electronic gate, connected via wireless/Ian connection to the control centre, that will stop and issue a warning in the case of presence of a piece of luggage the transponder of which contains data not corresponding to the aeroplane on which it is about to be loaded.

According to the present invention, in the case where the luggage is loaded by hand, the staff responsible for loading pass it through a portable gate connected by wireless connection with the management and control centre or check the luggage piece by piece with a palm-top of the type already described so as to be certain that they are not loading luggage that is intended for another plane.

In this way, the effective matching is guaranteed between passengers and the corresponding luggage.

From what has been said, it appears clear how the invention will enable the following advantages to be achieved:

- ensuring that no piece of luggage is left alone;

- ensuring that no passenger is left without his luggage;

- ensuring that the luggage and the passenger travel on the same aeroplane or in any case to

the same destination; and

- enabling re-use both of the RFID tags and of the passes, envisaging that they will be re-consigned before the passenger leaves the airport or before he boards the aeroplane.

The present invention has been described and illustrated in a preferred embodiment thereof, but it is evident that modifications and/or technically and functionally equivalent replacements may be made by any person skilled in the branch, without thereby departing from the sphere of protection of the present industrial patent right.