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San Diego International Airport Deploys Beacons for IT Efficiency, Passenger App

The Bluetooth Low Energy system, from Spark Compass, brings location-based data to passengers using an airport app, and location-targeted service calls to IT personnel on a Samsung smart watch.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 02, 2017

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has deployed an enterprise-wide system using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to serve its own IT and airport-management system, as well as the passengers who travel through its facility. The solution, powered by Total Communicator Solutions (TCS)'s Spark Compass platform and Samsung SDS Enterprise Mobility Management, brings location-based content to the public via an app on their smartphones, and to airport employees on a Samsung Gear S3 or S2 smart watch.

The airport initially pursued a system to provide information to passengers, supplying them with location-based content in the airport terminals themselves, as well as in parking lots and on shuttle buses. With hundreds of Gimbal beacons installed throughout its terminals, the airport also wanted to use the technology to manage employees, thereby ensuring the fast and efficient dispatch and response of service personnel.

Erik Bjontegard
Although the solution uses Gimbal beacons, it is hardware-agnostic, says Erik Bjontegard, TCS's president and founder. Other beacons can be supported by Spark Compass, as well as Near Field Communication (NFC), AR and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, he says. In the case of the airport, Spark Compass also integrates with existing management systems across the enterprise.

In the case of the workforce-management solution, says Rick Belliotti, SAN's director of innovation and small business development, "The primary challenge that we were trying to address with this technology was how to identify the closest IT technician and reduce response times to technology incidents."

The airport selected Spark Compass for its multitenant architecture, the ability of the airport and its tenants to communicate with passengers, and the ability of Spark Compass to integrate with existing management systems across operations. The smart watches were part of the solution provided by TCS. "We really wanted to see if we could make better use of a wearable versus a traditional smartphone or tablet device," Belliotti states. "The reality of using the wearable, in this use case, allows our technicians to keep their hands free so that they can perform the work while receiving notifications or updates."

The most important function for airports and airlines is to ensure that flights depart safely and on schedule. That means getting planes boarded and emptied in a timely manner. The airports and airlines consider keeping efficiency at the terminals a critical operation.

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