Albany International Airport in collaboration with GE (General Electric), has launched the first digitally-focused airport aimed at demonstrating new technologies to make air travel safer in a post-pandemic world.
The airport has signed on as the launch customer for GE Aviation’s new Wellness Trace App, which the Airport has been using to track COVID-19 cleaning protocols. In the coming weeks, the Airport and GE will unveil other advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning and other digital technologies.
“It’s exciting that Albany International Airport is partnering with GE on cutting edge technology that may help travelers feel safer since COVID-19 has changed our world,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Being able to scan a QR code and know the last time that surface at the airport was cleaned may alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty people are feeling as they venture out and bring back a sense of confidence. Any reassurance we can give people as they travel that they are doing so safely is important.”
GE Aviation’s Wellness Trace App is secured by blockchain technology and provides a comprehensive platform for airports and airlines to track COVID-19 screening for both passengers and employees and set protocols for tracking the cleaning of objects in the airport or aboard aircraft to ensure they are regularly disinfected. Albany Airport is the app’s first customer.
The vision for the Wellness Trace cleaning use case is to build a community similar to Waze, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. The app will offer the ability for the public to provide real time feedback into the cleanliness of their travel experience. For example, if a traveler needs to stop at a rest stop on their way to the airport, they can check Wellness Trace to find a clean one. If travelers need to grab a bite to eat near the airport, they can check Wellness Trace for the cleanest restaurants nearby. While in the airport, travelers can walk with confidence knowing the environment around them is now transparent and they can access cleaning information with just a quick scan from their mobile phone camera. Use of the service is free for the public.
Albany Airport initiated a three-month trial, during which its operations staff will use Wellness Trace to track cleaning and sanitation protocols for key areas and objects around the airport. More than 45 QR barcode stickers have been placed in areas and on objects throughout the airport. Using the Wellness Trace App from a mobile phone or tablet, operations staff will be able to validate the cleaning of objects by scanning each QR barcode.
Passengers will be able to scan the QR barcode stickers with their mobile device and receive an instant status update for when a given object or area was last cleaned.
Following the three-month trial, GE Aviation and Albany Airport officials will review the experience to discuss any updates or improvements that could be made to the app. They also will discuss the feasibility of expanding use of the app for health screening.
In the following weeks, GE will also introduce new digital technologies to test and trial from its Research Lab in Niskayuna, NY. These advanced technologies involving the use of AI, machine learning and predictive analytics and modeling studies are intended to help the airport stay ahead of changes it needs to make to ensure the safest possible footprint as air travel makes a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels. The airport will provide a real-time environment for developing and advancing these technologies.