If smart airports are going to enjoy seamless access to quality data and share that data across airport users, some smart thinking is needed.
An airport is a complex ecosystem with a core focus – to send and receive passengers and cargo with minimum fuss and maximum simplicity, safety and security.
It relies on hundreds of independent businesses, thousands of highly trained staff and a willingness by all to work together in pursuit of that core focus.
But collaboration is a big hurdle. SITA research highlights the situation at London Heathrow, for example. Around 300 companies and 77,000 staff are currently based at the airport, serving 70,000,000 passengers a year.
Staff are split between task, service and knowledge workers. Only 7% or so have their own PC or desk, and manage their own time, whereas a typical company profile outside of air transport is 30-40%.
Crucially, the ecosystem lacks common collaboration tools, notably in the areas of airport-to-tenant and tenant-to-tenant exchanges.
The same research led to a greater understanding of tenant needs and pain points, with four key conclusions:
- Most airports are looking for ways to improve communication and collaboration across the airport campus, but there’s no suitable solution on the market.
- A common contact directory for tenants and airport staff tends to be updated and distributed only once a year.
- Day-to-day information tends to be available only through specific tools and places, and available to a small number of people.
- Although it’s accepted that group communication is the key to collaboration, most tenants have different communication systems than those used by the airport.
Examples of the need for improved collective communication are readily to hand. Consider these questions:
- In an emergency, what’s the best way of sending information to all those in the area?
- If a section of a terminal is impacted by a special event, or routine maintenance work, how best to warn those affected?
- What’s the best way of advising people about major weather events – perhaps details of airport closure or flight delays due to heavy snow?
Only if there’s a common system can the airport ecosystem run most effectively and efficiently. It needs to be inherently capable of connecting tenant-to-tenant, and tenant-to-airport – and to be seen as complementing tenants’ own systems. It needs to be secure and maintain independent user privacy.
Critically, it needs to be usable by the task workers who make up 60% of employees.
And, of course, given the lack of up-to-date information about and between tenants, any workable solution must be easily updated and easily used.
Access to people’s contact details must be transparent and as simple as possible.
An app called ‘TETA’
Working with a selection of airport authorities and staff, SITA and a business partner will launch an app called TETA – Toolkit to Ease Teamwork in Airports.
It’s a SITA ATI Cloud app for use on web browsers or smartphones designed to make teamwork simpler to organize and operate.
This unique tool fills the long-standing information and communication gap.
Available to airport administrations, for them to sell on to tenants, it’s for the potential use of every person working within the airport.
To work effectively, TETA needs to be adopted by most of the airport population if it’s to become the hub for communication and collaboration.
Airport management will then be able to better manage information sharing, including in emergencies. It will mean better visibility of activities across the airport, with a clear up-to-date functional directory.
As well as being better informed about what’s happening across the airport, both airside and landside, tenants will be better able to inform their own staff and find it easier to communicate with other tenants.
Easy to implement, adopt and commercialize, TETA is a further example of how SITA is working with customers and the air transport industry as a whole to manage and leverage the massive amount of information that’s the hallmark of the smart airport.