RIOgaleão Airport Adopts 3,000 BLE Beacons

By Edson Perin

Internet of Things technology is helping passengers at the main airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, find services via their smartphones.

Tom Jobim International Airpot, managed by airport concessionaire RIOgaleão and formed by Odebrecht TransPort, Changi Airports International and Infraero, has adopted Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to offer Internet of Things services to its passengers and visitors. The solution, created by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, involved the installation of 3,000 beacons and the development of a smartphone app by Accenture.

The technology is based on Aruba's Meridian Mobile App Platform, with three language options—Portuguese, English and Spanish—and provides a variety of information to make the airport passenger experience easier and more enjoyable. "It is the first airport in Latin America to launch the application with indoor navigation," according to a document released by the airport.

The smartphone app uses the Aruba platform and 3,000 BLE beacons provided by Aruba.

The implemented solution allows passengers to check flights and services, as well as pay for parking, using their cell phone. "All information Tom Jobim International Airport passengers need is at their fingertips," the airport's management company reports. The app shows tourists the way to a pharmacy inside an airport, for example, and lets them plan stops at their preferred shops and restaurants.

RIOgaleão's solution uses 3G or Wi-Fi internet connection capabilities and Bluetooth beacons to allow visitors to determine their own location within terminals using the application map, as well as draw routes and navigate to the place at which they wish to arrive. The customers receive information about their route and the estimated time required to complete it.

The functionality is made possible by more than 3,000 beacons installed throughout the airport and provided by Aruba, the company reports. With so many beacons scattered across the terminals, RIOgaleão reports that it is the airport equipped with the largest number of this kind of devices installed worldwide, using solutions similar to those deployed in the United States.

With the application, which is freely available for iOS and Android mobile operating systems, RIOgaleão claims to be the first airport in Latin America to feature what it calls "indoor navigation." The technology integrates beacons, interfaces and the Aruba-developed app.

Once connected, a passenger or visitor has the option to follow flights on a panel that lists all departure and arrival times. With the "follow a flight" option, the user then receives real-time notifications regarding the status of the particular flight that he or she wants to follow.

Travelers also have the option of paying for parking without having to visit one of the ticket booths in person. When this option is selected, the application automatically opens the mobile device's camera function, enabling it to read the QR code printed on the card and thereby provide an alternative payment method via credit card.

In addition to offering features that identify services available within the airport—shops and airline terminals, for instance—the app also enables passengers to locate bathrooms, changing rooms, elevators and stairs on the airport map. In addition, a user can evaluate the services received, thus allowing for the continuous improvement of services offered to visitors.

The RIOgaleão app provides information on estimated arrival times and traffic on routes to the airport, through integration with applications such as Google Maps and Waze. It also offers weather reports and information about available public transport.

"By bringing indoor navigation to RIOgaleão, we are using technology and the internet to bring visitors even closer to the various locations and services of the airport," says Renata Pinheiro, RIOgaleão's director of communication and marketing. "Our goal, besides optimizing passengers' time, is to make sure that the experience is the best possible."

Users can also access the app for connection, ombudsman and real-time chat features. What's more, it provides access to RIOgaleão's social-media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.