Last March, officials at the Houston Airport System received welcome news. Skytrax, perhaps the world’s most respected source when it comes to ranking airlines and airports, upgraded its ranking of George Bush Intercontinental from three stars to four on its five-star scale. “One of the most notable upgrades has been to the critical area of terminal cleanliness,” a Skytrax press release stated. “Skytrax has witnessed improvement in cleanliness at most customer touch points, and a progressive rollout of smart washroom monitoring has played a significant part in this turnaround in standards.”
A year ago, the Houston Airport System became an early U.S. adopter of smart rest-room technology when it equipped all the restrooms at Hobby Airport and the 24 restrooms in Bush Intercontinental’s Terminal A with the Trax smart restroom platform developed by Atlanta-based Infax.
Trax uses sensors to keep count of how many people have entered a restroom. Then, when a selected threshold is met — 300 visitors in the case of the Houston airports — the system sends alerts via email or text message to janitors and custodial supervisors, who monitor those alerts via tablet.
The Trax system also equips restrooms with a tablet on which users can quickly indicate upon exit whether they were satisfied with the facility’s condition and explain any problems. Further, the system has an analytics component that informs custodial staff as to when a specific portion of an airport will see a heavy influx of arriving flyers, enabling them to time restroom cleanings accordingly.
Kelly Woodward, the interim general manager at Bush Intercontinental, said Trax “really has helped with scheduling and creating efficiencies and knowing the job is getting done. And people are happy with the cleanliness.” Woodward said the customer feedback component of the Trax system has helped solve specific problems at Bush Intercontinental. For example, she said, consistent reports made by customers on the tablet of malodor in one particular restroom helped the janitorial staff figure out that the restroom’s fans weren’t strong enough. As a result, she said, complaints about smell in that restroom have gone down.
Houston was an early adopter, but it’s not the only U.S. airport to have begun deploying smart washroom technology. The Trax system has also been installed at Atlanta, New York LaGuardia, Los Angeles and, just last month, Detroit. Philadelphia is currently piloting the system.
Meanwhile, this year Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport deployed the wearable cloud infrastructure of the locally based company Hipaax in all 52 of its restrooms. The system uses sensors to send out notifications to janitorial staff via smart watches.