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Major Beacon Deployment Takes Off at Miami International Airport

Assisted by SITA Lab, the airport has deployed hundreds of Bluetooth beacons to encourage app development, and to give SITA's common use registry a test flight.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 24, 2014

Miami International Airport has installed hundreds of Bluetooth beacons across its facilities, from check-in gates to valet parking zones. The battery-powered devices, supplied by BluVision (formerly StickNFind) and deployed with assistance from SITA Lab, the research and development arm of air transport IT company SITA, are ready to be used in any number of applications supporting airport operations, passenger services and retail promotions. The project could make Miami International Airport—which services nearly 40 million passengers annually and is the 12th busiest airport in the United States—a test bed for beacon-based business applications. The goal is to use the beacons to enable a variety of applications that passengers could access via their smartphones and tablets, including such applications as way-finding to locate an updated flight gate, or providing special promotional offers to nearby concessionaires, based on a passenger's location.

The beacons, which transmit a unique ID number to smartphones and other mobile devices via the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, are registered in the SITA Common-Use Beacon Registry. In June 2014, SITA Lab announced that it had launched the registry as a central data hub for beacons deployed within airports. The registry is designed to make beacon networks easy for airports and application developers to deploy and manage (see RFID News Roundup: SITA Researches Beacon Use at Airports, Plans to Establish Beacon Registry).

SITA's Jim Peters
To create an application, a developer must know the ID and precise location of each installed beacon inside an airport. For an airport-specific application, the developer might be able to obtain that information directly from the airport's IT department, but for an airline to develop a system-wide application—such as one that, say, triggers a passenger's boarding pass to appear on her phone as she approaches a security gate—it requires fast access to accurate beacon information across all airports that airline uses.

Maurice Jenkins, Miami International Airport's division director of information systems, says his airport hopes airlines and other partners will leverage the beacons to test new ways of digitally interacting with passengers, and of making the travel experience more convenient.

Jim Peters, SITA's chief technology officer, praises the airport's effort in putting the common registry to use, and for being willing to collaborate with stakeholders who use the facility to test a range of applications.

Leveraging the registry is easy, Peters says. Any developer can create an account and request a key to access an application programming interface (API) that lets an application pull any beacon identifier and location data from the registry, for use in an application. A second API grants access to the metadata related to each registered beacon. Metadata for a beacon deployed within an airport is related to that beacon's use cases, such as an airline using it for passenger communication or a concessionaire offering promotions to passengers based on their location within the airport. Examples of metadata related to a beacon near a boarding gate is a flight number or flight delay information, whereas a beacon in a security zone might reference the current wait time for travelers to pass through security.


Pavithra Babu 2016-03-17 10:01:36 AM
It is indeed a very innovative use of technology at an airport. Technologies like iBeacon help reaching travelers with the most contextual and personalised content at the right time and place. In fact, according to ‘The Future is Connected’ report by SITA, 61% of airports across the globe will be leveraging iBeacon technology by 2018. Leading airports across the world are leveraging beacons to provide a wide variety of solutions. Here is a list of the top 10 airports in the world that have deployed beacons to deliver a wide variety of enhanced services - http://blog.beaconstac.com/2016/03/10-airports-using-beacons-to-take-passenger-experience-to-the-next-level/

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