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Equipment

Beacon solutions grow in stature

07 January 2019
Passengers at Hong Kong International Airport can access indoor navigation and intelligent boarding alerts on their smartphones. Source: Getty Images

Indoor wayfinding apps offer financial spin-off benefits for airport operators

Airport operators must ensure that passengers are able to navigate often-complex terminal layouts to reach their departure gates on time. Some of the technology on offer also encourages them to spend during their journey through the airport.

Finnish company Confidex, for example, developed an application known as MyVia that offers wayfinding information for passengers and proximity marketing for retail and catering outlets at airports. MyVia is based on proprietary beacons, which are situated at 10 m intervals to identify passengers by reading mobile phone Bluetooth signatures. According to Paul Broekhuizen, vice-president of sales and marketing at Confidex, 99.9% of modern smartphones are Bluetooth enabled.

Broekhuizen said one major Asian airport is running MyVia on an iOS system, providing wayfinding maps, with 4,500 beacons installed. This live deployment has been in place since 2017. Two European airports are trialling the system: one for wayfinding services and the other on an e-commerce platform/proximity marketing basis. “Uptake has been better than we expected,” he added.

Piggybacking on Bluetooth

MyVia requires passengers to opt in on their smartphones, either online or by using a mobile app. Beacons give the exact position of the phone user. “At the back end, we have a cloud-based platform which manages the infrastructure and the analytics,” said Broekhuizen. “Based on phone signatures, we can make heat maps or people flow measurements to see where most people are at a certain date, time, and location.” This information allows an airport to monitor the impact on people flow if it changes the terminal layout.

Passengers using MyVia are known to the system in advance, since the solution is integrated into airline databases, so departure flights, times, and gates are already known. Boarding passes on phones can also be scanned on arrival at the airport.

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