It’s already been a few months since Airport IT & Security 2018 took place in Amsterdam last year. Time really flies
… pun intended. This was the last big airport event of the year for me, and an exciting one to get my mind ready for the landscape of airport technology and security in 2019 and beyond. Here are my key takeaways.
Airports are improving in IT maturity
There’s no doubt that airports are rapidly getting more mature with their technology. If you had asked me a year ago about the typical airport BI solution, I would tell you it was a sorry mix of outdated legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets, and in-house solutions cobbled together to try to deliver an accurate picture of the full airport operations. But today, airports are quickly getting wise to how impactful it is to invest in modern, scalable technology that touches on every aspect of airport operations in a single, easy-to-use user interface.
Even smaller airports around the world are investing in IT and more advanced technology to help them reduce queues and improve security. The market’s advanced queue management solutions are fast moving alternatives to their legacy counterparts.
Airports still need more accurate forecasting
I’m talking about a robust data system that pulls from every airport data source and presents information in easy-to-understand dashboards so users can make decisions instantly and plan for the future better with real-time access to passenger information. Like how Dublin Airport counts on TARGIT for accurate passenger forecasting. In 2017, Dublin Airport reported getting their passenger forecasts right 97 percent of the time, despite having a 6 percent increase in passengers in the past year. Yes, 97 percent.
Today, a solution can connect to a device that follows a single passenger precisely throughout the entire airport in real time. Systems use heat maps and passenger flows to see where they spend their time – in queues, in duty-free shops, in restaurants – and for how long.
Some airports are using weight sensors in their terminal trains so they can estimate how many passengers are on their way to particular terminals at that moment. This helps managers prepare in advance by identifying issues before they happen instead of when they happen. Instead of focusing on where the queue bottlenecks have formed, managers can streamline operations and send in more agents before those bottlenecks ever happen.
In order to work, this data must be collected, analyzed, and delivered in real time. Even a five-minute delay won’t do much good if the goal is to prevent security delays and queue pile ups.
Airports need to streamline resources
A system also needs to work for the users – not the other way around. Forecasting software shouldn’t leave you chained to a desk all day watching the data change. Data needs to be pushed out to the people who need it when they need it, such as a warning when data falls outside a specific parameter or a critical event takes place.
This allows users to work where they are most needed—such as on the floor or away from the computer making important decisions—which frees resources and stretches those that exist. People are empowered to do more with the confidence that the solution will alert them when something needs their attention.
One of the most notable conversation topics I had at Airport IT & Security 2018 was the number of airports that are operating well over capacity. Those without the IT infrastructure to help them manage were struggling to find an effective way to cope for both passengers and airport employees. While those that relied on a comprehensive BI and forecasting solution were operating efficiently at more than double their passenger capacity.
At a time when airport resources are stretched to the max, users need to focus on handling passengers instead of handling an IT system. That’s why an investment in BI can actually be even more impactful than investments in building and terminal expansion. The right BI solution will seamlessly scale up or down with need, making it possible for airport employees to do so much more with less. Forecasts are accurate, managers are better prepared, and resources can be placed where they are needed most.
2019, away we go
It’s unlikely that the growth of air travel will slow any time in the coming years. Airports need to figure out a way to use the resources that they have now to prepare for the future. More streamlined security, improved queue management, and more accurate passenger forecasting are just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.
You can come talk about the future of airport operations with us at the upcoming Passenger Terminal Expo 2019 in London. I’ll be there showing off some of the latest and greatest TARGIT features for airport regulations and operations, and showing off some example dashboards and scenarios form Dublin Airport’s successful BI journey.
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