Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California has partnered with Aero Port Services (APS), a provider of passenger handling and security services, to implement Bluetooth beacon technology for tracking and dispatching wheelchair services.
The Wheelchair Assistance Innovative Solutions Tracking System (WAIS-Track) was installed throughout LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) to address the growing number of wheelchair requests from carriers.
In 2015, LAX received more than 970,000 requests for wheelchairs across all terminals, of which 275,000 (or 28%) were at TBIT. So far in 2017, APS has received an average of 900 requests daily for TBIT, putting it on track to surpass 325,000 requests for the year. Since its installation, the new technology has resulted in better response times for travelers requesting wheelchairs, and has improved communications and operational efficiency.
Larry Rolon, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LAX, said, “We’re excited to see the implementation of WAIS-Track in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The demand for wheelchair services has risen by more than 14% in the past year at TBIT, which has the highest number of wheelchair requests at LAX. This can result in delays for passengers waiting for assistance. WAIS-Track will be a big help in managing wheelchair locations and personnel assignments, which should help reduce wait times.”
Walter Vergara, chief marketing director, APS, said, “We realized there was a need for technology that could efficiently keep up with the growing service demands of high-volume airports. Providing exceptional wheelchair service at TBIT relies on accurate benchmarking of our performance. With WAIS-Track, we’re introducing a way to ensure accuracy and efficiency while addressing high volume and reducing passenger waiting times. APS is proud to introduce and implement WAIS-Track at LAX.”
WAIS-Track uses Bluetooth-enabled beacons deployed throughout the terminal that provide wayfinding information to APS’s proprietary smartphone app. As wheelchair assistants ferry travelers throughout the terminal, their location data is read by a beacon and transmitted through a cellular network to APS’s computer servers, allowing real-time location tracking.
This connection eliminates the previous walkie-talkie and cellphone calls by dispatchers asking wheelchair assistants for their locations, their availability for another assignment, and how far they are from the central dispatch location to receive a new assignment. New assignments can be transmitted to available wheelchair assistants located nearest to the requesting airline staffer.
The WAIS-Track system provides wheelchair assistants and their guests with continuously updated estimated times of arrival from check-in to boarding gate, all without generating a paper trail. More than 86 beacons have been deployed throughout TBIT as part of an initial network roll-out.
Written by Dan Symonds