Analysts say that airlines and airports are showing increased interest in beacons to help keep track of and stay in touch with travelers.
If buzzwords like “proximity tracking,” “GPS-enabled marketing” and “universal location sharing,” bring to mind an Orwellian image of the future, then the airport might soon be a place to avoid. A report from SITA, a leading aerospace IT and communications firm, says that a growing number of airlines and airports are showing an interest in beacons as part of an “Internet of Things” (IoT) approach to better connect with both infrastructure and travelers at the airport.
SITA research shows that more than 85 percent of airlines plan to implement the IoT method to track everything from baggage to equipment and, because nearly everyone carries a smart phone, passengers as well. The benefits of using beacons at airports as part of an IoT scheme are evident in helping airlines to redirect resources and communicate quickly with personnel and customers, but SITA officials note there will be serious privacy concerns to overcome along the way.
SITA has created a Common Use Beacon Registry (CUBR) to encourage the industry to share data rather than having each party create individual beacon networks at airports. The CUBR would set standards for how and with whom the data, including passenger proximity data, should be shared.
SITA Chief Technology Officer Jim Peters promises that the smart airport of the future is coming, whether passengers are ready or not. “It’s early days for the IoT, but it is becoming a reality and this will be a game changing and real time revolution in the way we do things – not only the air industry, but across all aspects of our lives.”
The IoT-enabled, smart airport of the future may not be as far away as we think. Miami International Airport (MIA) has already put beacons in service throughout the airport and may other airports employ the technology at ticketing and baggage areas. In these cases, the intelligent airport may already be tracking you.