COLONIE — Albany International Airport on Thursday will debut an app developed by General Electric Co. that will provide updated information on cleaning routines designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
GE’s Wellness Trace App will read QR barcodes at 45 locations throughout the airport. Travelers can scan the codes with their smartphones to learn how recently each location was sanitized and how frequently. The information is updated each time the area is cleaned.
Lavatories, seating areas, ticket counters and other high-touch areas are among the locations covered by the app developed for the airport by GE Aviation’s Digital Group.
Travelers can obtain the information by using their smartphones to scan the QR barcode.
“Today there’s 45 places at the airport” with QR barcodes travelers can access, said Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Aviation’s Digital Group, “ranging from lavatories to Chick-fil-A,” one of the airport’s most popular concessions.
One goal is to expand the technology to taxicabs and to services such as Uber and Lyft, and to aircraft and other airports, Coleman said.
“We’re proud to have Albany International as our launch customer,” Coleman said. “The app is helping them closely track Covid-19 cleaning protocols today, with the potential to track other health screening as the industry and regulators navigate safe travel in a post-pandemic world.”
Albany’s airport was a natural place to introduce Wellness Trace App. GE Research in Niskayuna, which worked with GE Aviation on the technology, is a 10-minute ride from the airport, and GE officials are heavy users of the airport. Meanwhile, airport CEO Philip Calderone has been a proponent of using advanced technology to keep travelers safe “from curbside to the boarding gate,” he said in an interview this week. “We’ll be the cleanest and perhaps the smartest airport,” he said, adding that a new airport master plan now being developed seeks to have Albany serve “as an incubator for new smart technologies.”
GE Aviation is a major supplier of jet engines to the world’s airlines, as well as aircraft avionics and electrical power systems, and it hasn’t been immune to the impact the pandemic has had on air travel. The new technology eventually could help airlines seat passengers to minimize the threat of Covid-19 and make them more confident in the safety of air travel.
GE also is looking at ways to minimize the threat anywhere crowds gather, including hotels, conference centers and other venues. The company is working along those lines with Formula One racing in Europe, Coleman said.
Another location where the app can add value to the airport is the area before the security checkpoint, said Amy Linsebigler, a chief scientist at GE Research. GE already has technology to manage patient flow and the use of surgical suites in hospitals, and can apply that to the flow of passengers through security checkpoints, she said.
“We’re working on social distancing and queuing even before they get to the security checkpoint,” said Calderone.
GE researchers plan to use artificial intelligence and