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Apps, apps and more apps

Published on  10 September by Kevin O'Sullivan , Lead Engineer , SITA Lab
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There are over 1.3 million apps in the Apple iTunes store at last count. Google Play Store hosts a similar count. Apps are part of our everyday world, and for business and leisure passengers there are a huge number to choose from, covering every part of the journey. Inspiration apps for planning, apps for shopping, airport apps, navigation apps, points of interest apps, translation apps, weather apps, restaurant booking apps, review apps, and on and on.

All these apps thrive on data, and in our industry there is a lot of data to be had, but only if we can unlock it and make it easy to consume. This is exactly what the developer.aero program is trying to achieve - make it simple (both technically and commercially) for developers to innovate using travel data and create richer passenger experiences.

Apps for every stage of the journey

On developer.aero now, we have APIs that cover various aspects of the passenger journey. A key API is the iTravel API which provides shopping and reservation and check-in APIs. These APIs enable developers to create a multitude of shopping experiences (to name a few, we've built apps on tablets, phones, desktops and even Google Glass). The check-in APIs are used to drive consumer self-service apps, kiosk apps, and roaming airport staff apps.

The Boarding Pass API is used by several airlines to deliver boarding passes to passengers after they check in online. What is significant about this API is that it is a single service to deliver boarding passes to many channels - including traditional 'print at home' boarding pass,  mobile web, native airline app display, Apple Passbook, Google Now, Google Wallet, Samsung Wallet, NFC and more. As more wallet strategies emerge the API will expand to accommodate them, but still provide the single simple interface for airline app developers.

The Bag Journey API is a fabulous example of taking important, but hard to access, travel data and converting it into a useful service that applications can easily consume. As bags are checked in and processed through an airport and onto the plane, many individual bag messages are generated to indicate the bag status (checked in, scanned, in container, on plane, etc.). The Bag Journey reads this enormous flow of data, aggregates the useful information and presents a simple API to get a bag status by flight or tag number.

The Bag Journey API allows passengers to be sure their bag is onboard with them (or not). Or it can be used by operations staff to proactively identify bags at risk of missing transfers and begin service recovery with passengers before arrival of incoming flights.

The Common Use Beacon Registry provides a listing of iBeacons located at airports around the world. This service means that individual airlines don't need to manage their own deployment of beacons at an airport everywhere they travel - install once, reuse many times.  The registry API also combines beacon location data with FIDS data and can dynamically generate time to board, and walk times to gates for apps as they use the system - an example of combining several datasets to generate a new passenger service.

To learn more about the APIs we're working on, as well as third party APIs, visit developer.aero.

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