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Proximity and Geolocation Solution Tracks Air Passenger Baggage

Amadeus has teamed up with Sigfox to offer an IoT-based solution that tracks the locations of bags or assets inside and outside of airports to reduce the risk of loss.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 27, 2019

Travel technology company Amadeus has developed a new solution using Internet of Things (IoT)-based technology from Sigfox to bring location visibility to passenger luggage at airports and beyond. The solution is intended to help airlines and airports better manage the flow of luggage and ensure that no bags end up missing, while information could also be shared with passengers. The companies' Pinpoint Alliance solution consists of battery-powered IoT trackers attached to luggage, which transmit a signel via Sigfox's OG Network, along with Amadeus's management software. The system can be used to track assets for airports and airlines.

Amadeus is a European-based IT company that offers solutions to connect travelers with agents, search engines, tour operators, airlines, airports, hotels, cars and railways, according to Marion Mesnage, the firm's research head for innovation and ecosystems. The company has developed technology-based solutions in partnership with the travel industry for more than 30 years, she says, and has helped connect more than 1.6 billion people annually to local travel providers in more than 190 countries.

Recently, Mesnage reports, Amadeus has begun offering a platform approach to its products. For airlines, that means enabling self-service functions that airlines can provide to their customers. By tracking the location of luggage, she says, "Their day-to-day will be easier to manage, allowing them to integrate technologies and services from Amadeus or from other partners and developers."

For airports, the company offers applications and solutions that enable them to respond to changing situations. "With flights, passengers and baggage to manage," Mesnage explains, "airports can have clear visibility on each turnaround activity and make informed decisions, thanks to real-time information shared between airport partners and systems."

PinPoint offers luggage and airport asset-management systems. "Luggage is a very important topic," Mesnage says, "both for travelers and travel providers." Transferring assets, including bags, from one aircraft or airline to another can be challenging, she says. There are multiple technologies that can identify and locate bags at airports. The International Air Transport Association (IATA)'s Resolution 753, passed in 2018, has already dictated that airlines must employ an identification system capable of detecting when a bag passes through specific zones, using UHF RFID-based tags or other technologies.

While RFID can identify specific events, such as when a bag is loaded onto a plane or placed on a conveyor in the baggage-claim area, Amadeus's Sigfox-based system would know the general location at all times if the baggage tracker were turned on, explains Guérin Vong, Sigfox's IoT agency business strategy director. That means knowing not only when a bag is loaded onto a plane, but also when it is in a duty-free area, a restaurant or a car travelling away from the airport. It can accomplish this because Sigfox networks are already in place in many parts of the world, and thus can provide the general location of a Sigfox device.

To date, the Sigfox network is available across 67 countries, while more than 300 airports are already covered with Sigfox technology. The PinPoint information could augment RFID data, Vong notes, by providing locations beyond RFID reader zones. Inside airports, PinPoint can include Sigfox's proximity detection to identify a tagged item's location within a configurable range from 1 to 100 meters (3.3 to 328 feet).

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