We’ve seen a strong collaboration in recent years between architects and IT specialists in new airport and terminal design.
More and more, SITA is being brought in at the very early design stages. This is because of the role technology now plays in providing flexibility for an airport, enabling it to handle the relentless growth in passenger numbers.
A case in point is SITA involvement in building intelligent airports in Sao Paolo (GRU) as well as Rio de Janeiro.
By starting with a shared infrastructure for check-in and combining it with self-service, airports can move the check-in process off-airport to train stations, hotels or other venues. In turn, this reduces the area needed at the terminal to process passengers.
A design that incorporates a mix between self-service kiosks and traditional counters at the terminal reduces the number of physical counters, which means more floor space can be utilized for retail space.
Besides infrastructure, airports can use technology in their operations to remain flexible. Business Intelligence (BI) for both day-to-day operations and future planning uses data from multiple sources for data exploration and predictive analytics, allowing airports to be flexible, proactive and more efficient.
To deliver the data that underpins the intelligent airport, the terminal needs an agile and connected infrastructure that can bring people and systems together. This is best planned at the design stage of any terminal construction or upgrade.
Plug and play
Deploying a single IT infrastructure allows all stakeholders to connect, creating a true shared infrastructure and a ‘plug and play’ tenant-friendly airport that’s more attractive to airlines and concessionaires.
An agile and connected information and communications technology (ICT) platform can easily accommodate current and new technology such as near field communications (NFC) and wearable computing, as well as meeting the demands for connectivity and bandwidths of the new generation aircraft such as A350, B787 and A380.
ICT at design stage
It’s important to incorporate this ICT infrastructure – including structure cabling, server rooms, and so on – into the airport or terminal design.
Bear in mind that advances in cloud technology will mean fewer requirements for the ICT infrastructure to be on-site. It’s here that architects and IT specialists can collaborate to determine the infrastructure that needs to be built, so that you can make capital investment in areas able to generate revenues such as retail, rather than being wasted on unnecessary, on-site, energy-consuming technology.
Very much a part of the future-proof airport, SITA’s ATI Cloud is starting to be deployed by airports worldwide. By centering infrastructure in the Cloud – together with data and services – airports can simply and cost-effectively embrace leading and future-proof IT services. (See '‘A cloudy’ future for airports' below section.)
Early engagement of a technology partner in the design phase of an airport terminal enables a paradigm change in its construction. The traditional capital program method of ‘design-bid-build’ is now giving way to the ‘design-build’ framework. This emerging method is much more agile, delivering a more cost-effective and accelerated approach to airport terminal capital building programs.
When you consider the heavy reliance on technology in an airport terminal – which is possibly greater than in any other building which is open to the public – the early engagement of a technology partner in a ‘design-build’ framework will become the de facto standard for any modern airport building program.