Airport Map

Image: Marcelo Cáceres

APEX Insight: APEX Media spoke with Chris Wiegand, CEO of indoor intelligence mapping platform Jibestream, about the future of wayfinding at airports, and how each step of the passenger journey can change with a little help from a few beacons.

Chris Wiegand Jibstream CEOWhile digital indoor mapping has been all the rage in tech media over the past few years, actual deployment is happening more slowly than originally predicted. Jibestream is one company that’s helping this technology find its way into the everyday lives of people around the world. “What we started with was kind of like MapQuest,” said Jibestream CEO Chris Wiegand, and “Today, it’s more like Waze.” The indoor intelligence mapping platform has provided wayfinding solutions for GGP and Westfield, two massive shopping mall operators in the US and Europe, as well as for Toronto Pearson International Airport, and has a location-based services partnership with a major US airport in the works.

Miami International Airport was a beacon-deployment pioneer, and some airlines have leveraged beacon technology to help passengers plan their airport arrival while they’re still in the air; but beaconized airports are not yet the norm. “Up until now, there have been issues with beacon installation being a very manual process,” said Wiegand, adding that the battery life of the beacons hasn’t always lived up to expectations, and maintenance has been a hassle.

“If content is king, then context is queen!” — Chris Wiegand, Jibestream

According to Wiegand, beacon installation, setup and maintenance processes have gotten much easier over the last six to eight months, but the next hurdle is one of perception. “For the consumer, there has to be a compelling reason to participate and, equally, for the airport, they need to see the ROI attached to it,” he said. “On the passenger side of things, we’re looking for that seamless journey, which starts at home.” For example, beacon technology can tell a passenger where to park when she arrives at the airport, based on current parking lot capacity and up-to-date congestion trends.

Airports are attractive environments for beacon deployment because so many needs and wants are layered onto one journey through those spaces. Wiegand sees airports as big malls with airplanes. There are security and customs elements involved, but they’re huge retail centers as well. “If content is king,” said Wiegand, “then context is queen! This is where geofencing comes in, delivering messages at the right time. You don’t want people to feel the technology. The best technology is the kind where you don’t even notice.”

Jordan juggles deadlines across various time zones as he writes about travel, culture, entertainment, and technology.