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Better by design

Published on  09 March by Ned Macesic , Vice President, Airport Solution Line, SITA
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Airports are buzzing with construction activity. The CAPA Airport Construction and Capex database currently lists over 2,300 airport construction projects worldwide and over 300 new airport developments.

It is not surprising. The industry is playing catch-up to handle the rising passenger numbers. Today, many airports are already operating well above their design capacity and without massive investment in infrastructure the problem is going to get worse. ACI forecasts worldwide passenger traffic through airports is going to top 12 billion by 2031.

An obvious consequence of all this is more congestion and flight delays, which causes dissatisfaction among passengers and additional costs for our industry.

Smart use of technology can often be the savior, giving the airport the flexibility to handle growth both in passenger numbers and airlines.

In fact today, technology impacts on every key metric of airport operations from passenger and baggage throughput to aircraft turnaround times through to the whole passenger experience. It means airports must have robust and reliable IT infrastructure to bear the increasingly heavy workload.

However, retrofitting an existing airport terminal with modern technology can be disruptive and costly, so it makes economic sense to incorporate not just the immediate needs, but also the future needs, of the airport and its tenants at the design and construction phase.

This has led to a stronger collaboration between architects and IT specialists. It has reached the point where running a modern airport efficiently is so reliant on technology that choosing the right partner for the role of Master Systems Integrator (MSI) has become a critical success factor.

We’ve found more and more that we are being brought in at the early stages of terminal design to ensure an integrated approach to IT infrastructure from the outset.

For example, at Baku International Airport, Azerbaijan, we deployed a common network infrastructure across the terminal. A single IT platform makes integrating the different airport systems easier, allowing collaboration between many different stakeholders and boosting efficiency.

Such has become the complexity of integrating the different technologies that just managing all the different vendors has become a critical role. At the new terminal at Dublin Airport, for example, 14 different suppliers and their different technologies needed to be deployed and fit for purpose from day one.

Our ability to perform this task consistently on time and on budget comes from our unique understanding of the day-to-day complexities of running an airport. In total we work at over 1,000 airports worldwide and with all the main stakeholders, including airlines, ground crew, governments and border agencies.

Another reason why our airport MSI capabilities are in demand is that many airports want flexibility so that the airport can be future-proofed.  Early engagement of a technology partner ensures standardized systems and processes specifically tailored for air transport can be incorporated at the design phase. SITA specializes in deploying common-use communications and infrastructure. This lends itself to a ‘plug and play’ approach making it faster to deploy new services and accommodate next generation technologies, such as e-gates, kiosks and bag drop, and beacon technology.

Using standardized systems makes it easier to combine data from the different sources. We are now starting to see more airports mine this data and use predictive analytics to improve both day-to-day operations and future planning.

In effect the use of technology is enabling us to build intelligent airports that connect not only the systems, but also the employees and passengers.

If your planning to be at Passenger Terminal Expo in Paris, why not join Daniel De Cruz, Director Business Development, SITA , who will be presenting on Wednesday March 11 on the Topic of Reducing IT system implementation cost and complexity in airport construction referencing Baku Airport , in the Technology, Systems Integration, IT & ICT track.

Read more about how we helped Baku Airport.

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