As handheld technology booms, personal mobility solutions are crucial across all kinds of industries, but perhaps especially in airports. Locoslab specialises in positioning infrastructure and location-based services that benefit airports, airlines and passengers alike.
Since the presentation of the first smartphone, technology in all segments of society has been evolving at tremendous speed. Personal devices bring the power of the internet to every aspect of our lives, and people of all ages and backgrounds expect to be able to obtain all kinds of data in a timely and accurate fashion. Travel is no exception, and the demand for solutions in personal mobility is fast evolving. Technologically driven solutions are no longer simply nice to have, but are also crucial for the acceptance of mobility solutions all over the world.
The issue of personalised information is particularly important for travellers at airports, where different modes of transportation come together, and passengers have to react to changes in schedules and potential delays. Additionally, the information provided has to match the requirements of travellers from all over the world, all of whom will have differences in backgrounds, cultures, mobility, needs and types of journeys (such as business or holiday trips).
This creates technological challenges not only for airlines and travel agencies, but also - and especially - for airports.
Uli Danz, head of R&D at Lufthansa AirPlus, foresees that "in the near future, it will become more important to understand the demands of travellers and their behaviours in order to provide each passenger with relevant information throughout their journey".
As a result, personalised information has become the standard by which users judge the services offered by mobility companies. However, it is not possible to cope with the large amounts of information produced by personalised services unless they are filtered for each particular user according to three main factors: location, time and relevance. Location-based services provide exactly this kind of filtering and, with ubiquitous connectivity and cloud-based infrastructures, they are in a unique position to satisfy current and future passenger demands.
The advantages of such an integrated personal mobility information system are obvious to travellers. They feel they are taken care of by a system that understands their needs, from leaving home to arriving at their final destination. For this purpose, it is crucial to present the user with information from different sources in an integrated way and make sure that they do not feel distracted or disturbed during the process.
From the point of view of stakeholders, the information provided by airlines, travel agencies and airports has to be available, regularly and accurately updated, and meet the needs of each individual traveller. The advantages for the airlines range from higher customer satisfaction to the improvement and optimisation of their processes through the use of aggregated information from passengers booked on the same flights. Airports benefit from an increase in customer satisfaction and the optimisation of offers to passengers at the airport, as well as improved passenger flow through security checks, for example.
Personalised mobility services not only provide enhanced travel experiences, but also allow the improvement of current processes and open new business opportunities for stakeholders through the use of aggregated and anonymised information from travellers.
Implementing such an ecosystem and achieving the goals detailed above is not a trivial task, and requires the combination of expertise from a variety of areas. Relevant data such as position, profile and travel information must be obtained from the user, and combined with public and proprietary data from sources such as airlines and airports. This requires the use of a reliable and flexible cloud infrastructure to which the travellers can connect, and that acts as a hub where relevant information is generated, updated and pushed to the user as needed.
As well as integrating data, the infrastructure has to allow the analysis of data as quickly as possible in order to generate an added value that the traveller perceives and eventually demands. This analysis has to be performed at two different scales in parallel. On one hand, it is important that the individual user receives relevant data, which requires the filtering and identification of information specifically tailored to the user after analysing all sources of data integrated in the system.
Although personalised, this information has to be obtained, transmitted and processed in a secure way in order to avoid eavesdropping. On the other hand, anonymised and aggregated information from the current users at a terminal can be analysed to provide data to the airport in order to optimise its processes. An airport is, therefore, not only a provider of information for the users, but also a consumer of the aggregated data that the cloud infrastructure provides.
Following the three main filtering factors identified above - position, time and profile - the infrastructure can now provide relevant data to the right travellers at the right time and position, implementing a series of location-based services, the value of which is not only perceived by the traveller, but also by airports and airlines.
From all three factors, assuming the traveller uses a mobile phone and at least one app to receive data, profile information and time are relatively simple to obtain. The current position of a user, however, is much more challenging. If the user is outside a building, GPS can obtain a position with reasonable accuracy for most applications. If the user is inside a building such as an airport, determining the position requires the installation of additional infrastructure. This infrastructure is usually based on Bluetooth low-energy devices such as iBeacons or Eddystone devices, which have to be deployed and properly calibrated before they can be used. Furthermore, accuracy and reliability requirements for indoor deployments are more stringent than those for outdoor deployments, making the seamless integration of solutions that require navigation or route computation in indoor and outdoor environments extremely challenging.
Locoslab is a one-stop shop for travellers, airlines and airports that specialises in the installation, calibration and maintenance of positioning infrastructure, as well as the provisioning of location-based services that seamlessly integrate external data sources. Data analysis is provided as an additional service for producers and consumers of data (such as airports) that are interested in obtaining aggregated information from their users. With the complete solutions provided by Locoslab, airlines, airports, shops inside airports and, of course, the passengers themselves obtain the information they need at the location and time they need it. Locoslab's patent-pending technology reduces installation and calibration times from weeks to hours, making a pilot installation in any environment a breeze.
With partners such as Lufthansa AirPlus and public transit companies throughout Europe, current pilots and installations also include subway stations, shopping centres and public buildings. This variety of domains underlines the applicability and flexibility of Locoslab's infrastructure for a variety of industries. Locoslab's core positioning technology and robust infrastructure has been developed after almost seven years of research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, where the founders met and worked together. Innovative but close-to-market solutions drive Locoslab's continuous development of complete solutions in areas such as personal mobility, where location-based services are bound to play a crucial role.