Airport’s low-tech solution to digital chaos involves the humble whiteboard

There are times when low-tech is the only way to go, a point proven by staff at Gatwick Airport, after the computer system that supplies information to the departure boards suffered a problem, leaving travelers without crucial details about their flight. The digital displays most of us are familiar with from airports around the world show flight status, departure time, and of course, the gate where once must wait ahead of boarding. If all this disappears, what can be done?

The team at Gatwick Airport has resorted to a low-tech and reliable (albeit time-consuming) alternative: Whiteboards. Staff apparently resort to other rare forms of old-school communication, such as relaying verbal messages between each other, to pass information to those writing on the whiteboards, and directly to waiting passengers.

The unusual situation at the airport has turned it into a trending topic on Twitter, with passengers — some disgruntled, and others quite upbeat — sharing photos of the situation. In the departure hall, airport staff are using the same kind of whiteboards many of us will recognize from meeting rooms at work to write out the flight information. Crowds of people surround them, eager not to miss their flights.

Some passengers complain that the whiteboard isn’t up to the job of displaying the required information, while others say it’s “calm and ordered,” due to airport staff’s diligence and organization.

What has caused the problem? According to Gatwick Airport’s official Twitter account, “an ongoing issue,” with Vodafone, which provides both the business and public data services, has stopped the flight information screens from showing data. A possible lack of mobile coverage may also make it difficult for people to use their phones to find other sources of flight information online. In a subsequent tweet, it’s stated the airport expects Vodafone to fix the problem soon, and the carrier told the BBC a damaged fiber cable was to blame. The issues began at around 9 a.m. on Monday, August 20, during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Currently, only a handful of passengers have reportedly missed flights due to the confusion. In 2017, the airport served more than 46 million passengers.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Business

Will your carry-on fit in that overhead bin? Kayak’s new AR tool can tell you

Don't break out the tape measure just yet -- a new augmented reality tool inside the Kayak app can help determine if your bag meets carry-on requirements. After measuring the bag, the app compares it to your airline's requirements.
Emerging Tech

Who will be the first private passenger to the moon? SpaceX will tell us today

SpaceX is set to announce the name of the mystery passenger who it will launch into orbit around the moon. This will be the first lunar traveler since the last U.S. Apollo mission in 1972.
Movies & TV

September brings 'The Dragon Prince,' an animated war series, to Netflix

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Mobile

Fitbit’s new health care platform sets out to improve wellness in the workplace

Fitbit's new platform, Fitbit Care, aims to help improve wellness in the workplace. Using wearables, digital health coaching, and a more personalized health care experience, employees can have an easier time staying on top of their health.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Mobile

Samsung looks to Huawei for inspiration, and the new Galaxy A7 is born

Samsung has launched the Galaxy A7 smartphone, its first with a triple-lens rear camera, which, although sounds similar to the one fitted to the Huawei P20 Pro, works in a different way.
Mobile

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro's body may wirelessly charge new Bluetooth headphones

Huawei is no stranger when it comes to big phones. And this year it plans to go even bigger with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Here's what we think we know about the new range.
Smart Home

Voice technology is useful, in demand, and not moving fast enough

A new survey commissioned by IT analytics firm AppDynamics indicates that enterprise companies aren't adopting advances in voice technology fast enough to keep up with demand, especially from millennials.
Mobile

88 percent of the $800-plus smartphones sold last quarter were iPhones

Apple may not sell as many smartphones as Samsung overall, but according to a new report that varies depending on price. The company sold 43 percent of all smartphones over $400, and 88 percent of those over $800 last quarter.
Mobile

How to clean your iPhone’s charging port

What happens when your iPhone charger doesn't work? It's time to look at the charging port. Here's how to clean your iPhone's charging port: We'll go over the most successful methods and the safety tips you need to know.
Mobile

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?
Mobile

Here's the Samsung Galaxy S9's new Android 9.0 Pie interface

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are here. The flagship devices boast some awesome new features and a powerful new processor. Here's everything you need to know about these Samsung phones.
Photography

Joby’s tiny tripods double as selfie sticks and hide four different modes

The Joby TelePod models are more than just compact tripods -- they also double as hand grips, selfie sticks, and tabletop tripods. Designed to accommodate smaller gear like smartphones and lightweight mirrorless, the tripods use a unique…