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Georgia Airport Automates Its Lost and Found With AI Tech

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is leveraging AI technology to streamline the return process for items in the lost and found. The new platform will save time and stress for visitors and airport staff.

Image shows airport gate seats with airplane taking off outside the window.
Georgia's Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) has adopted artificial intelligence technology to streamline the return process for lost and found items.

Airports often serve as a testbed for new technologies, a trend that only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as societal changes created demand for rapid tech advances.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is one of two airports — Syracuse Hancock International Airport being the other — that announced today the use of Boomerang’s software to automate claim-to-item matching through AI technology.

The airport previously used a database, requiring hands-on logging, matching and customer communications, according to Lee Ann Norris, customer experience manager at SAV. “Everything was completely on my team.”

The new software solution automates this process, Boomerang’s CEO and co-founder Skyler Logsdon explained. It allows businesses like airports to take photos of lost and found items and input some basic details about the item. Individuals filing claims on lost items input similar details, as well as information on the timing of the loss. From there, the system looks for commonalities between the information saved about each item and the information submitted in claims from those looking to find lost items.

For example, if the key words “gold” and “watch” were entered, the system would look for corresponding items the airport has in its inventory. When a match is confirmed, Boomerang will collect shipping details and payments and create a label that the airport staff simply prints, and then the item can be sent right to the customer. Claims can be submitted at any time of day and the filer will be updated throughout the process.

“Businesses want to be great; they want happy customers,” Logsdon said. “But it’s really hard when you get this big wave of inventory with your fixed amount of team members.”

The solution aims to save employees and customers time, in addition to providing long awaited insight into the returns process for those filing claims. Logsdon explained, technology products like tracking tags have already given customers insight into where their items are, creating new pressure for airports to respond and return them more quickly and transparently.

Because of the data that the software collects regarding when a claim was filed and when it is returned, airport staff can easily track the solution’s impact.

“It will be very easy to determine if this is saving us time,” Norris said. “I know from the get-go it will save us money because of the shipping process. … and I know that I will have no problem showing upper management that we can renew this contract next year.”

The solution was designed to be very intuitive so that even users who are not extremely technically savvy would be able to use it with minimal training, although the company offers training as part of the onboarding process, Logsdon said. From the start, he said the goal was to create the simplest solution possible for the big and sometimes complex problem.

According to Norris, the solution is even easier to use than the airport's previous database, noting that no one on the team has struggled to use the platform. Her belief is that this software will help push SAV to its goal of providing every passenger with a great experience.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.