In our daily lives, we’re all familiar with digitally supported services. Think of Uber and Amazon. So it goes without saying that more and more passengers expect their journey to be digitally-driven; they expect real-time information to be at their fingertips, literally.
But I have to say, as an industry, we’re just not there yet. Consider the scenario of waiting for your baggage. You don’t really know if it will arrive, and if it’s missing you only find out when the belt’s empty! Then you have to report it missing.
Shared eco-system of real-time aviation data
To me, the answer clearly lies in better collaboration and sharing of real-time data among industry players. If we can do this, then we can use real-time data to keep passengers informed about their baggage.
But baggage is only one example, of course; there are many more. I sincerely believe that creating a shared eco-system of real-time data, both passenger and operational, will enable us to improve and even expand many of the services we provide.
Better real-time data, for instance, would allow us to prioritize seating of passengers according to who has the least time to catch a connecting flight. Or it could give us the ability to plan the service of planes according to value queuing, instead of first come first served.
An Aviation Industry Data Model will move us forward
To make accurate real-time information available, I believe an Industry Data Model is required, and I am pleased to say that Swissport is working on this with SITA and other industry partners.
Our aim is for Swissport to have the right data to make intelligent, proactive decisions on day-to-day operations. But we will also develop a broad framework of how information can be shared across the industry. My goal and the key to the success of an Industry Data Model is to ensure all stakeholders, airlines, airports and ground handlers, have access to the same information.
Such a model will give us common business terminology so that we can truly benefit from combining data from different providers and sources. And it will speed up analysis and design of functional requirements, by providing industry-specific information infrastructures.
A predictive future
My expectation is that by building an industry data model this will enable us to dramatically improve the quality of predictive decisions, by combining data sources – from airlines, airports, security and ground handlers, or for traffic, weather conditions and more.
Shared real-time data would make it possible to know the location of baggage at any given time. It could give us more precise flight predictions, so we’re better at allocating ground handling staff and equipment. We might even achieve fuel savings, as better flight predictions could reduce the time on-hold planes are circulating above airports.
We need to learn how to exploit the key technologies
As for the salient technologies, initially, we’ll leverage open APIs, stream technologies such as Kafka and Sparx, and microservices-based architectures. Looking ahead, blockchain could become a key technology in the data-sharing ecosystem, which is one reason I am very pleased that Swissport is part of the explorations on SITA’s Aviation Blockchain Sandbox.
A lot more is emerging too: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Hypersurfaces Technologies, Intelligent Clothes, Augmented Reality and Cyber Glasses. It’s all very exciting; they could all be major tools and technologies that we’ll use in the future. But first, before we leap we must learn where and how we can best use them.
A smoother, digitally-driven journey
So let me circle back to the passenger and their expectations of a digitally supported journey. If we can effectively exploit data, we can smoothen the journey and enhance the passenger experience.
Whenever changes, delays or unforeseen events occur, with the benefits of real-time information passengers can expect better, faster and more accurate support – from the moment they leave home to the end of their journey.
But one thing’s for sure, to unlock the full potential of air transport industry data, a prerequisite is an agreed Industry Data Model to securely share common data with relevant stakeholders.