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AI, Machine Learning to Aid in Airport Sanitation Efforts

The Albany International Airport in New York has partnered with General Electric on technology that helps sanitation crews monitor cleanliness and frequently touched surfaces throughout the facility.

by Eric Anderson, Times Union / November 13, 2020
Shuttestock/Song_about_summer

(TNS) — The signs pose a question air travelers likely have been asking themselves since the early days of the pandemic. "When was this area last cleaned?"

Now, they have an answer.

General Electric Co. and Albany International Airport have teamed up in an ongoing effort to protect travelers, airport employees and airline staff from Covid-19.

GE will develop the technology, and the airport will introduce it to the traveling public. The first innovation was demonstrated during a press conference Thursday morning that drew participants from GE Aviation and Niskayuna-based GE Research, as well as airport and local officials. It's basically an app the airport uses to clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces, from airline check-in counters concessions to waiting areas and lavatories.

As areas are freshly cleaned, the app is updated. Travelers can scan the QR barcodes with their smartphones to find out when it was last cleaned, as well as viewing previous cleanings.

While it reassures travelers, it also lets the airport monitor cleaning protocols to make sure nothing is being overlooked.

Next up: Ways to maintain social distancing and minimize wait times at the security checkpoints. The terminal, noted airport CEO Philip Calderone, was designed in the era before 9-11, and the waiting area to clear security can be cramped during peak periods.

GE scientists will call on artificial intelligence and machine learning as they seek a solution. Other projects are also in the works, and GE hopes to spread what it learns here to airports, hotels, convention centers and aircraft — anywhere there's a crowd — to keep the public safe and healthy.

"People (want to) feel comfortable when they travel," said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. "It's about confidence."

©2020 the Times Union, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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