A new travel experience is music to our ears | SITA

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A new travel experience is music to our ears

Published on  18 January by Matthys Serfontein , Vice President, Portfolio & Solutions Management, SITA
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IATA and ACI’s New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXTT) program has set its sights on ‘off-airport activities, advanced processing technology, and interactive decision-making’. One of the program’s stated goals is to guide investments that will drive new ways of doing business, as the air transport industry grapples with continuous growth and ever bigger airports of the future.

This is music to the ears of anyone at SITA. Our aim has always been to bring about the improvement of aviation processes and practices through technology. We have long worked with the industry’s bodies to help to deliver strategic community initiatives, such as Simplifying the Business, Fast Travel, Smart Security and Resolution 753.

In fact, our self-service capabilities have played a huge part in such programs and are now embedded in the journey, from booking and check-in to bag drop, boarding and border control – and, more recently, biometric-enabled self-service.

Transformative tech

The transformative technologies and focus areas explicitly cited by NEXTT – including tracking and identity management, automation and robotics, better use of data, predictive modeling and artificial intelligence (AI) – are high on SITA’s agenda, as we explore areas that will deliver digital transformation for the industry.

Going hand-in-hand with that ‘digitization’ is data. If, as an industry, we can successfully collect, crunch and securely share the vast amounts of data we generate, then we can exploit the huge potential that exists to deliver a new travel experience.

SITA’s role in all of this is unique. We’re deeply involved in digitizing the air transport industry’s ecosystem, working with airline and airport customers, as well as governments, ground handlers and other players. And we’ve been bridging and sharing air transport data as part of our DNA for nearly 70 years, since SITA was created to provide the first network for airlines to share data.

‘The stars are aligned’

Looking ahead to the travel experiences of the future, I and my SITA colleagues see an ‘alignment of the stars’, as borne out in SITA’s 2017 Airport Transport IT Trends Insights report. It tells us that airports and airlines are planning major projects in areas such as identity management and tracking, the Internet of Things, AI, cognitive computing, robotics and machine learning.

SITA’s remit is to help the community embrace these technologies and trends, as was the case with our biometric boarding trial with JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection, as well as our biometric identity projects at Doha and Brisbane Airports which engaged both the airlines and the government. As investments in new technologies are made, we’ll continue to collaborate and co-innovate with the industry and our customers to deliver the new travel experience.

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