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CVG turns to new technology, stringent cleaning protocols to keep travelers safe during busy holiday

Avidbot at CVG
Posted at 5:06 PM, Nov 24, 2020

HEBRON, Ky. — Even though the CDC has recommended that people stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is still anticipating its busiest travel days since the start of the pandemic.

In order to cope with the increase in travelers at the airport, CVG is turning to technology to keep COVID-19 at bay.

Part of this new technology is utilizing a robot called “Gita” that helps make at least one of the jobs at CVG a contactless experience. The robot uses the push of a button and a censor to follow staff through the airport while they assist travelers to the gate or hand out supplies.

Gita robot at CVG
The "Gita" robot, which is being utilized at CVG for contactless services, includes self-balancing technology so it it can start and stop with the speed of a person and can turn by spinning with a zero turning radius. It is also programmed with "pedestrian etiquette."

“We look at ourselves as being a place where you can test and develop things,” said Naashom Marx, Senior Manager of Strategic Innovation at CVG. “Gita is one of those examples. We have five of them in the airport that our employees use. We’re helping people move their things around, but also how do we make sure it’s contactless, something that people feel safe about?”

Cleaning tools are on the cutting edge at CVG as well. The airport is utilizing Avidbots, an autonomous floor scrubber that can clean much more efficiently. Marx said the tool allows employees to utilize their time better so they can focus on cleaning surfaces. CVG is also using a new disinfectant spray called SafetyNet that kills germs on surfaces for up to 30 days.

“Recognizing that nobody wants a virus, nobody wants anything (like that) traveling through different areas,” Marx said. “So what are the measures we need to look at? Cleaning a certain surface, or ensuring that the air is clean and safe. That could be through bi-polar ionization or through sprays that we are using that actually have an anti-microbial lasting effect on the surfaces.”

CVG spokesperson Mindy Kershner said the airport staff have increased their cleaning regimen and are wiping down high-traffic areas like handrails, moving walkways and ticketing counters. New plexiglass guards have been installed “almost everywhere you could have an interaction with a human being.”

The airport also has doubled its number of hand sanitizer stations.

“We are really taking it very seriously,” Kershner said. “So if people need to travel or if they have chosen to travel, we want them to feel taken care of when they come to the airport.”

In addition to the new technology and cleaning, there are safety measures CVG asks travelers to observe on the Fly Healthy section of its website. Those include protocols like wearing masks and social distancing.

Kershner said November and December are expected to be the busiest months since the pandemic began and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving will likely see an uptick in airport traffic. So it’s more important to plan ahead.

Other circumstances like the Brent Spence Bridge closure may affect one's expected route to the airport, and travelers should consider that lines will be longer because people are taking their time.

“Build in that extra time and plan an alternate route,” Kershner said. “The last thing you want to do is miss a flight when you are trying to get somewhere for Thanksgiving travel. We're encouraging passengers to do research and plan ahead, even more so than you usually do during these times of COVID.”