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Smart Airports 2017: Streamlining airport operations through IT

According to IATA, 3.6 billion passengers travelled through airports in 2016, compared with 2.6 billion in 2011. This huge swell in passenger traffic combined with the digital transformation means that airports need to focus on streamlining their operations through IT solutions.

“The use of biometrics is growing and becoming more widespread throughout airports” said John Devlin, principal analyst and founder, P.A. ID strategies and consultant for Valour Consultancy, talking at the Smart Airports IT & Automation day in Munich on 11 October.

But he pointed out that, while using biometrics for security screening is efficient and time saving, there is still a question mark over who has access to that data once it’s been read.

Alongside asset tracking, wayfinding beacons, common use passenger processing solutions and heat maps and video analytics being used to improve passenger flow, self-baggage drop kiosks have also proved massively popular in airports, when it comes to improving efficiency and reducing staff costs.

But Devlin concluded there isn’t one answer to how IT operations can be deployed in airports. “Airlines and airports need to lean on each much more in order to generate more shared revenue in the future” he said.

Michalis Senis, senior IT business consultant, and Sebastian Stiffel, service division IT, demand management, sales aviation and B2C at Munich Airport, talked about the challenges of seamless travel on airport IT, access to big data and the impact that data will have on the industry. He also stressed that airports and airlines need to be careful not to bombard passengers with too many apps.

Senis also pointed out that “airport IT has to combine airport operations with new innovation”, which makes it almost impossible for airports to roll out all-singing, all-dancing new technologies with any haste. Devlin concurred saying that while there is plenty of opportunity to make airports ‘smarter’, most hubs are restricted in how quickly they can roll out new technologies as they are still working with the legacy of traditional airport infrastructure and processes.

Markus Grauvogl, sales director, Cleverciti Systems, meanwhile spoke about how car parking solutions such as ‘kiss&fly’ lanes and parking management can drive airport revenue.

Conversely Tina Haas, senior consultant at Dornier Consulting International, suggested that the need to cater for parking might not be necessary in the not too distant future as “the future lies in autonomous driving”.

To reinforce her point, Haas said that the use of autonomous vehicles on the landside and on the airside will lead to efficiency and safety improvements whilst controlling costs and delivering a positive customer experience. Furthermore new partnerships between airports and mobility service providers or car sharing companies will generate revenue for airports and she concluded “that access to airport cities will be more efficient and competitive due to the use of autonomous vehicles”.

Inset image: John Devlin, principal analyst and founder, P.A. ID strategies and consultant for Valour Consultancy talking at Smart Airports 2017, Munich.

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