BindiMaps, a navigation app developed to provide the vision impaired with an indoors wayfinding solution, is being adopted by Sunshine Coast Airport in the first collaboration of its kind in Australia.
The app, which has been adopted by major shopping centres and office property owners around Australia, is being installed at the airport to all passengers navigate its facilities in a move aimed at making the facility one of the most accessible airports in the country.
Sunshine Coast is the first Australian airport to install the BindiMaps system and comes on the heels of the startup securing a similar agreement with Budapest International Airport late last year.
With Sunshine Coast Airport servicing 1.62 million passengers a year, general manager of operations Kate McCreery-Carr describes the BindiMaps collaboration as a ‘gamechanger’ for the property.
“Our goal is to create a more accessible airport for our community, where all passengers feel welcome, included and confident when travelling,” McCreery-Carr says.
“While the technology can be used by anyone, the benefits it will provide to passengers and visitors who are blind or visually impaired will be significant, allowing them to precisely navigate our terminal with greater ease and accuracy from the moment they enter, to the moment they leave.”
The Sydney-based BindiMaps was co-founded in 2019 by Anna Wright, whose own vision impairment led her to develop the technology with the aid of Blue Chilli's SheStarts accelerator program as far back as 2017.
While it started as a wayfinding app solely for people who are blind, BindiMaps has developed a broader user base that is being adopted across properties owned by the likes of Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX), Mirvac (ASX: MGR), Stockland (ASX: SGP), KPMG and Brookfield Properties, as well as St Vincent's Health Australia and Vision Australia.
The broader application of the technology was one of the reasons Sunshine Coast Airport chose to install BindiMaps on its property at Marcoola.
The app uses a network of Bluetooth beacons and smartphone sensors to offer users a choice of text, map view or audio directions to guide users through the airport using real-time, step-by-step directions to any destination.
“One of the many benefits of BindiMaps is its adaptability, which is crucial as we grow and expand into the future,” says McCreery-Carr.
“With BindiMaps, we can update maps, routes and other relevant passenger information ensuring that passengers have the most accurate information no matter the situation.
“Our goal is to make Sunshine Coast Airport the most accessible and inclusive in Australia, and we want to thank the wonderful team at BindiMaps for helping us start this journey.”
BindiMaps is akin to Google Maps, but according to Wright, the BindiMaps CEO, it has ‘10 to 20 times greater accuracy than the Google satellites and GPS, which can only pinpoint location to around 20 meters compared to one to two metres indoors for BindiMaps’.
“Our navigation algorithms and network of Bluetooth beacons and smartphone sensors offer a sophisticated navigating experience that is currently unrivalled,” Wright says.
BindiMaps says its system will help passengers, staff and visitors precisely navigate the entire airport with ease and accuracy, especially those with a vision impairment or disability.
“BindiMaps will not only help passengers navigate to obvious places like boarding gates and security, it will also minimise the staffing burden of personalised assistance, manage congestion and reduce late arrivals at the gates,” Wright says.
“It will also help improve passengers’ airport experience by helping them navigate to unique locations to grab their favourite snack, buy a neck pillow and ear plugs or find a place to charge electronics.”
Wright says BindiMaps has been successful at Budapest International Airport, which services more than 12 million passengers a year.
The company secured that contract following a worldwide tender as part of the DANOVA project, which is focused on innovative services for people with vision impairment across crucial transport hubs and airports in Europe.
Wright says the contract represented a milestone for BindiMaps as it was the first step in a planned expansion into Europe, as well as other offshore markets.
“We look forward to helping Sunshine Coast Airport achieve similar results on its way towards becoming Australia’s most accessible airport,” Wright says.
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