SITA beacon technology

Airports could become prime user of beacon technology, which uses Bluetooth to trigger the display of relevant information on phones and tablets, according to a research by air transport IT provider SITA.

The research also revealed that unless an industry registry is adopted, the risk is that deployments of beacons will be piecemeal and proprietary, limiting the potential of the technology.

Beacon technology is a potential game-changer in the retail sector, and can display information that is relevant to the specific location and context of the user.

In order to determine the scope of this technology in airports, SITA conducted the trials of beacon technology and issued its findings in its paper ‘Connecting to your passenger; are beacons the breakthrough?’

Beacon technology offers benefits such as low cost and wide range, which makes it attractive to anyone seeking to connect directly with customers.

The technology research team of SITA has evaluated whether the technology works in the real world as advertised, and conducted trials with a leading international airline and airport.

"Beacons should be treated as a common-use piece of infrastructure."

The company noted that the trials produced results which are both ‘promising and cautionary’, and added that even though the relatively low cost of beacons makes them an attractive option, the airports should be careful of adopting a gold rush approach to deploying them.

SITA CTO Jim Peters said: "It is clear from our initial research that beacons should be treated as a common-use piece of infrastructure.

"Airports also need to carefully manage their radio space as beacons are deployed. They will need to have clear visibility of where, and how, the beacons are being set up to avoid disruption to each other’s signals and existing Wi-Fi infrastructure."

A common-use approach to beacon technology can be adopted at airports where an airline does not have dedicated gates or other infrastructure.

Image: The company noted that the trials on Beacon Technology at airports produced results which are both promising and cautionary. Photo: courtesy of SITA.