DHS Funds Airport Navigation App That Guides You from Check-in to Gate

The Homeland Security Department is investing in technology that helps air travelers navigate airport security and gives federal agents a direct line of communication with passengers.

The agency’s Science and Technology Directorate awarded a nearly $120,000 contract to LocusLabs to adapt their airport navigation application for Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The smartphone app would give passengers real-time location information and guide them from curb to gate using Google Maps-style directions. It would also let agencies immediately get in touch with everyone at the airport.

“This platform becomes a basis for a whole segment of smart building applications, like visitor wayfinding, asset tracking [and] staff dispatch,” said LocusLabs CEO and co-founder Campbell Kennedy told Nextgov. Instead of relying on physical signs and personnel to direct passengers, CBP and TSA can use the app to communicate through maps and personalized push notifications, he said.

The system would also help manage the flow of traffic through each segment of the airport.

Wait times at security and customs checkpoints are notoriously inconsistent, so planning for air travel requires a decent amount of guesswork, Kennedy said. But by analyzing GPS information and data feeds from Homeland Security, the app can calculate accurate wait times and point travelers to the fastest lanes to prevent them from clogging certain areas, he said.

The tool will also provide handicap-accessible routes and details on airport restaurants and shops, said Kennedy. And if it looks like you might miss your flight, it’ll even let you know to pick up the pace, he added.

The award came through the Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, an in-house startup incubator that invests in technologies with national security applications. Kennedy said the company will spend roughly six months building a working prototype with CBP and TSA, and then launch a pilot program at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Separately, LocusLabs is also piloting an augmented reality navigation tool at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and London’s Heathrow Airport, according to Kennedy. By tapping into people’s smartphone cameras, the app would overlay directions and other helpful information directly their screens, he said.

 

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Virgin Australia adds indoor mapping and wayfinding to app

Virgin Australia passengers can now more easily navigate the airport thanks to the addition of interactive indoor maps and navigation to the airline’s app.

Passengers can use the app to navigate select airports in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The new features help passengers optimize their time. They can know how long it will take them to get through security lines and get to their gate.

The new app feature comes from LocusLabs. The company says its technology delivers the most accurate and consistent indoor/outdoor location experience on the market to passengers and puts the messaging and control of the platform in the hands of the airport.

LocusLabs’ technology, via the Virgin Australia app, has been deployed in more than a dozen airports throughout Australia and the APAC region. The LocusMaps platform allows Virgin Australia to focus on developing features that differentiate their digital and app experience from their competitors and give passengers the best airport experience possible.

Geoffrey Mitchell, Virgin Australia Digital and Emerging Technology Manager:

“We know that travelling can at times be stressful and so we are always looking for innovative technologies that can make the travel experience easier for our guests.”

This exciting new feature will allow our guests to plan ahead for the journey, making their pre-flight time more enjoyable and giving them the freedom to explore what’s on offer at the airport before their flight.”

Campbell Kennedy, CEO of LocusLabs:

“Communicating using spatial information in an airport is critical – travelers can’t reach their departure gate on-time if they can’t find it, or buy what they need at a shop across the terminal if they don’t have time.

It has been rewarding to see that airports across Australia see the importance of location intelligence, and we look forward to deploying our technology in more regions around the globe to provide the best day-of-travel experience to guests and improve operational efficiency.”

LocusLabs technology communicates the most relevant information to passengers visiting the airport, making their experience easier by removing confusion and streamlining processes, especially in complex indoor areas like airports.

Recently, LocusLabs announced it has been funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). LocusLabs is providing the DHS with analytics to help improve airport operations and streamline the passenger experience through the Silicon Valley Innovation Program. DHS S&T is investing in LocusLabs’ development of guidance software and valuable analytics technology for potential U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) applications.

Full article here