Albany airport introduces first-of-its-kind technology to keep travelers safe from COVID-19


COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Beginning Thursday, travelers can walk through the doors of Albany International Airport with a new sense of security when it comes to protecting themselves from COVID-19. The Albany County Airport Authority worked collaboratively with General Electric Aviation to roll out a first-of-its-kind safe travel technology to closely track COVID-19 cleaning protocols. 

CEO of the Albany County Airport Authority, Philip Calderon, said General Electric developed an innovative “Wellness Trace App” designed to inform travelers of the last time high-touch surfaces or seating areas were disinfected, including bathrooms, restaurants and ticket counters.

Travelers simply use the cameras on their smartphones to scan one of the 45 QR code stickers posted throughout the airport. A new tab will open up informing travelers of the last time the area was sanitized and what was used to clean it.

Calderon said it’s all part of a plan to transform the airport into a so-called “digital incubator” providing travelers with peace of mind. 

“People want to be in the know. They want to be empowered to make decisions, and so having that ability to scan those barcodes and really know what their environment is like from a safety perspective is really a great thing,” said Amy Linsebigler, Ph.D. Commercial Director & Chief Scientist for General Electric Research.

Assistant Airport Manager, John Delbalso, said not only does the app provide realtime feedback to travelers, but to the airport staff as well.

“If it does go beyond a certain threshold, we’ll get alerts that will let our supervisors know this area may need some attention,” said Delbalso.

Calderon said Albany International Airport is the first airport in the world to use this technology, but airport representatives from around the world have already expressed their interest in securing it for themselves.

Calderon said this is just the first of more digital technologies to come and that it’s all here to stay even once the pandemic is over.

“Just like the world was never the same again after 9/11, it will never be the same again post pandemic and there are protocols that we will be putting into place at our airport and businesses around the world that will become permanent,” said Calderon.

Calderon added that the staff at Albany International Airport have been doing remarkably well with only a handful of positive COVID-19 cases reported since the pandemic first began in March.

Calderon said while travel is down due to new surges and restrictions, they do anticipate to see an increase as we approach the busy holiday season.

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