- November 13, 2020
- Posted by: Stratford Team
- Category: Business
Ever been in an airport bathroom and wondered when it was last disinfected? Now there’s an app for that.
General Electric has a new app that lets travelers keep tabs on how often airport surfaces are sanitized in an effort to make people more comfortable flying during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first proving ground for the system is Albany International Airport, where it was formally launched Thursday. Travelers can use their smartphones to scan QR codes posted around the airport that link to a webpage showing when the areas were last wiped down, swept and mopped.
“We’re trying to be very specific, like when your Uber pulls up and you know who your driver is and their background,” Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Aviation’s digital group, told The Post.
Workers responsible for cleaning those spaces, “from check-in kiosks to bathrooms to Chik-fil-A,” use GE’s “Wellness Trace” app to enter details about how they last tidied up, Coleman said. Travelers can also download the free app or just use their phone camera to perform a spot check.
The app’s public rollout comes as the aviation industry grapples with immense pressure from the coronavirus pandemic. US airline passenger volumes are still 65 percent below where they were a year ago even though research has shown that the risk of catching COVID-19 on a plane is low thanks to mask mandates and good ventilation.
While Albany is a fairly small airport with just 53 commercial departures a day, it’s a fitting partner for GE, whose global research arm is based less than 10 miles away in the upstate town of Niskayuna. The app will be tested at the airport for three months before GE and officials assess how it’s working and discuss potential updates or improvements, the company says.
“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,” Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy said in a statement.
GE hopes airports and airlines will eventually use Wellness Trace to track coronavirus symptoms and testing for passengers and employees. The company is testing such features among Formula One racing crews in Europe, who can have their COVID test results fed directly into the app before they enter race facilities, Coleman said.
GE also plans to expand the system to other airports such as those in South Carolina, Dubai and New Zealand, which have all expressed interest in using it, according to Coleman. He declined to reveal how much it costs airports to use, but he said the figure is “very nominal.”
“There’s some that are very sophisticated,” he said. “Others are still using paper for everything, and they’re like, ‘Wow, this could be a pretty easy way to get more sophisticated.’”