The full scope of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is yet to be seen for the aviation industry. In the near term, however, airports and airlines are acting quickly to help passengers, employees, crew members and others navigate airport spaces safely and maintain social distancing.
Here are some ways airports and airlines can use indoor mapping, point-of-interest search, and wayfinding to communicate health and safety information.
Highlighting restrooms and hand sanitizer stations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites frequent hand-washing as an important measure for protecting yourself and others, and preventing the spread of disease. Airports can help people find restrooms and hand sanitizer stations through their connected maps in several ways:
- Putting map markers in place that are specific to restrooms/sanitizers
- Pinning such points-of-interest to the top of pre-loaded map menus
- Adding contextual keywords or tags to these points of interest to capture common search terms. For example:
- Wash hands
- Hand washing
- Clean hands
- Sanitizer / Sanitization
Seattle-Tacoma International has implemented a yellow icon in their mobile app to draw attention to the 119 hand sanitizer stations they installed throughout their terminal:
To help keep you safe, we have installed 119 hand sanitizers in and around the terminal with more on the way. Traveling right now? Find the closest hand sanitizer to you, look for this yellow icon on our mobile app or search ‘hand sanitizer.’ https://t.co/JUu3a4zEqO pic.twitter.com/hm0DgImc7V
— Seattle-Tacoma Intl. Airport (@flySEA) March 10, 2020
Promoting mobile/web maps that passengers can use on their own devices
Touchscreen kiosks can serve as a widely accessible resource for the public in normal conditions, but they may contribute to the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic. These should be sanitized frequently or, ideally, temporarily disabled. Instead, airports and airlines can direct people to maps that are accessible via personal electronic devices, whether via an app or in a browser. Use physical signs throughout the terminal that give directions on finding web maps.
Showing passengers the shortest path to their gate
If your mapping tool supports it, airlines should consider programmatically pinning the passenger’s most efficient walking path, between their check-in station and the departure gate. This may help passengers avoid unnecessary interactions or delays in the terminal. Pre-load this wayfinding upon opening the maps, or send a still image of the path in a check-in email.
Stock image from Anna Shvets, via Pexels