Albany International Airport has become the first to start using a new blockchain-powered smartphone application that uses QR codes to show passengers real-time tracking of cleaning of touchpoints and surfaces throughout terminals, restaurants and other areas.
Wellness Trace is GE's new application that the company envisions establishing a community among airline travelers similar to Waze where they can check the app to get a sense of the cleanest restaurants, stores, bathrooms, and other areas of the airport. Albany started using the app after a three-month trial and has now put into operation with more than 45 QR barcodes located throughout the airport.
"We're really looking at this as an initial step, giving passengers an easy to use a method that confirms the last time a restaurant or bathroom was cleaned could greatly improve their confidence when moving through the airport as we continue to deal with concerns about touchpoints in airports, and really everywhere, due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Aviation's digital group told Avionics International.
Coleman said that Albany's close proximity to their digital research lab located in Niskayuna, New York made it the perfect location to launch Wellness Trace and evaluate its ability to reinforce passenger confidence in the cleanliness of the airport. Passengers will be able to simply 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.
GE developed Wellness Trace using Microsoft Azure's blockchain service and is bringing it to Albany after first launching the technology in partnership with farm-to-table food traceability solution provider TE Food and Luxembourg-based lab testing service supplier Eurofins. Coleman believes the application could also be used by airlines in a similar way to demonstrate cleanliness in the cabin.
"It could be integrated into every seatback screen, the QR codes could also be scanned as passengers are boarding. Lavs, and other high-traffic areas in the cabin, are other options to consider as well," Coleman said.
Albany plans on using the application for passenger cleanliness confirmation for a three-month trial and then considering how to improve it. Airport officials are also considering expanding its use for health screenings.
"The use of GE’s cutting-edge Wellness Trace App is a major first step in our joint efforts to integrate new digital solutions to create safer travel in a post-pandemic world,” Philip Calderone, CEO of the Albany County Airport Authority said in a press statement.
Passengers traveling to Albany will also be able to use the app to check the cleanliness of restaurants near the airport as well.
“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.”