Case study

Creating global communities: Charlie and the check-in functionality

24 Mar 2017

A commercial partnership between University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Chinese technology firm, Wuxi Chigoo Interactive Technology, has resulted in a UWS student developing a new method to improve journey experiences for airport visitors. 

Elahe Naserian, a UWS computing science student at the Paisley Campus, in collaboration with UWS academic, Professor Xinheng Wang, proposed a new approach to take advantage of existing UWS-developed ‘C-Trolley’ technology, which is currently being utilised on smart trolleys in 19 airports across China.

‘Charlie’- as the smart trolley is known – helps passengers navigate terminals by acting as an electronic guide, while allowing them to charge their phones, book hotels, restaurants or onwards travel and providing games for entertainment.  

The new update, created by UWS, integrates check-in information with existing data gathered from Charlie to help analyse passenger behavior and movement in the airport building. The approach helps map the patterns of groups of passengers, such as families or couples, in order to improve terminal layouts and passenger management. The data can also help airport retailers to tailor adverts for airport customers. 

Currently on trial at Guangzhou Baiyun International airport, China's third busiest and the world's 17th busiest airport by passenger traffic, it is expected that Wuxi Chigoo will roll-out the programme to the rest of its operations in the next six months. 

The collaboration is a direct result of a partnership between UWS and Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications; one of 37 Chinese institutions with which the University is currently partnered. 

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Craig Mahoney, who, in late 2016, was part of the UK delegation to China led by MP and Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson to discuss further academic relationships, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications.  This partnership opens doors for international collaboration, giving UWS students the experience of working with global firms, and the ability to apply their academic knowledge to real commercial operations. 

“Being able to tap into the expertise available within academic institutions from a business perspective is also essential. It provides a means of securing future talent while injecting fresh thinking into companies looking to grow and innovate.

“The Wuxi Chigoo Interactive Technology project is great example of this partnership working in practice, and we look forward to seeing similar relationships being developed across the world. At UWS our aim is to continue building our international partnerships in order to open doors and broaden the horizons and prospects for all of our students.”

Professor Xinheng Wang, Professor in Networks at the School of Engineering and Computing at UWS and research partner on the project, said: “We’re working closely with Wuxi Chigoo Interactive Technology on developing software which will add value to their current offering and give them a real opportunity to grow revenues through improved customer experiences and tailored advertising. Organisations are increasingly turning to big data analytics to allow them to refine their operations in a variety of ways and the software Elahe Naserian developed is a prime example of how data can be analysed to provide companies with better insight into their customers.”