How SITA Lab is making beacon technology a reality at the world’s airports.

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SITA Lab is the strategic technology research arm of SITA, the leading specialist in air transport communications IT. Our team is continually exploring and experimenting with new technological innovations to improve operational efficiencies and enhance passenger experiences in the air transport industry (ATI). Almost every airline and airport in the world does business with SITA, so we know how this industry works.

Since the launch of our  developer.aero API platform, powered by 3Scale, one of SITA’s missions has been to provide industry developers access to data and processes that speed up innovation for the benefit of airlines, airports and their customers – the billions of passengers who take flights every year. Publishing RESTful APIs on developer.aero opens up the power of SITA’s distributed web service architecture and the innovation behind our managed services, so developers can focus on developing their own apps.

Early Trials Indicate Huge Potential For Beacon Technology At Airports

Recently, we ran the earliest trials into the use of Beacon Technology at airports. Hailed as a game-changer in retail, Beacon Technology uses Bluetooth to push and display relevant,contextual information to the specific location of the user to phones and tablets nearby. The benefits being touted for the technology, such as low cost and wide range, have a huge potential for airlines, airports and other travel enterprises wanting to connect directly with customers.  We set out to see if this really was the case.

Beacons Shared Across All Airlines Most Efficient Way To Connect To Passengers

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What our research indicated is that a common-use approach to Beacon Technology makes sense at airports, where airlines do not have dedicated gates or other infrastructure. Shared beacons, with which airlines can associate their own mobile apps, would be far more efficient and effective than each airline managing a set of beacons at each airport. This is already a model being used effectively for other shared services at the world’s airports, such as check-in, bag drop and gate infrastructure. SITA is now taking up the challenge for the industry in its role as the community provider for beacons.

The developer.aero Airport Beacon Registry Project

To do this our team at the Lab is building an industry registry for all beacons which can be accessed via the 3Scale powered developer.aero API platform.

The registry provides the following services:

  • It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport.
  • It enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points
  • It provides beacons owners with a simple API mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons.
  • It provides an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps.

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Join the Beacon Registry

Airports, airlines and app developers who are interested in leveraging the potential of beacons in the air transport industry are invited to join the project. For more information, check out here.  We also issued our findings in this paper: Connecting to your passenger – are beacons the breakthrough?

Other Developer.Aero APIs

Mobile boarding passes, bag tracing, mobile booking and check-in are some of the APIs available on SITA Lab’s API developer.aero portal. These foster innovative app development and dramatically reduce the time and complexity of development.

  • Boarding Pass API
    Allows airlines complete flexibility in the creation and distribution of mobile boarding passes.
  • BagTrac API
    Enables the retrieval of the real time status of a specific bag, or list of bags, on a particular flight.
  • Airport API
    A free API which retrieves information about airports.  Allows developers to test and familiarise themselves with SITA’s API management systems.
  • iTravel API
    Provides a simple, convenient and cost effective alternative to the conventional development of airline customer applications using SITA’s Reservation Web Services (SRWS). (only available to airlines hosted on Horizon, SITA’s passenger services system, or their accredited developers)
  • atiBeacon API
    Retrieves information about beacons in airports and sets beacon locations and meta-data.

Check out our APIs on https://www.developer.aero  today and get in touch if you need more information.