Beacon technology 'ideal' to aviation industry
Dubai, March 11, 2014
Beacon technology’s low cost and wide range have a strong appeal for those in the air transport industry wanting to connect directly with customers, said a recent report.
The potential of using beacon technology in today’s airports was investigated by Sita Lab, a technology research team of the air transport industry’s IT provide Sita.
It conducted the earliest trials of beacon technology at airports and has issued its findings in its paper ‘Connecting to your passenger – are beacons the breakthrough?’
Beacon technology uses Bluetooth to trigger the display of information on phones and tablets that is relevant to the specific location and context of the use, said the research.
Connecting and communicating efficiently with passengers throughout their journey is a widely-held goal in the air transport industry, it said.
Jim Peters, chief technology officer, and the head of Sita Lab, 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 other’s signals and existing wifi infrastructure.”
At airports, where an airline does not have dedicated gates or other infrastructure, a common-use approach to beacon technology makes sense, according to the research.
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 said.
The technology is already being used at airports for other shared services such as check-in, bag drop and gate infrastructure.
The challenge being taken up by Sita now is, however, for the industry in its role as the community provider.
“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,” said Peters.
“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.”
The 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, said the research. - TradeArabia News Service