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Beacon Technology - SITA Unveils Findings of Trials

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Wednesday, 12 March 2014
 

SITA Lab, the technology research team of the air transport industrys IT provider SITA, has conducted the trials of beacon technology at airports, and this week issued the findings in its paper Connecting to your passenger are beacons the breakthrough?

Beacon technology has been hailed as a game-changer in retail. It uses Bluetooth to trigger the display of information on phones and tablets that is relevant to the specific location and context of the user.

Connecting and communicating efficiently with passengers throughout their journey is a widely-held goal in the air transport industry and SITA Labs research has investigated the potential of using beacon technology in todays airports.

The benefits being touted for the technology, such as low cost and wide range, have a strong appeal for anyone wanting to connect directly with customers. But SITA Lab investigated if the technology works as advertised in the real world. Trials with a leading international airline and airport have produced results which are both promising and cautionary.

SITAS Chief Technology Officer, and the head of SITA Lab, Jim Peters, said, The relatively low cost of beacons makes them an attractive option for airports, but we need to be careful of adopting a gold rush approach to deploying them. It is clear from our initial research that beacons should be treated as a common-use piece of infrastructure. Airports serve multiple airlines, and airlines travel to multiple airports. It is a very complex network - too complex for everyone to manage their own deployments. It will need careful management ... Airports also need to carefully manage their radio space as beacons, which are radio-emitting devices, are deployed. They will need to have clear visibility of where, and how, the beacons are being set up to avoid disruption to each others signals and existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.

SITA Labs research has highlighted that at airports, where an airline does not have dedicated gates or other infrastructure, a common-use approach to beacon technology makes sense.

Shared beacons, that different airlines could associate their own mobile apps to as and when required, would be far more efficient and effective than each airline managing a set of beacons at each airport.

It is already a model used effectively for other shared services at the worlds airports, such as check-in, bag drop and gate infrastructure. And now for beacons, SITA is taking up the challenge for the industry in its role as the community provider.

Peters said, SITA Lab is currently building an industry registry for all beacons. The goal is that any airline will have a single point of contact to go to use any beacon deployed by airports around the world. We are already working with some early adopters but are looking for other airports, airlines and app developers who are interested in leveraging the potential of beacons in the air transport industry to join the project.

Early indications, based on work by SITA Lab, suggest airports could become a prime user of the technology. However, unless an industry registry is embraced, the risk is that deployments of beacons will be piecemeal and proprietary, limiting the potential of the technology.

SITA, Beacon Technology

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