To deliver all of this, the mindset and approach of the entire industry has to change, says Griffiths. The entire value chain has to be synchronized with the core of the customer requirement. “We have to redesign the process and recognize the individual needs of the customer.”
Airports of the Future
Michael Ibbitson, vice president of information and communications services for Abu Dhabi Airports Company, walked session attendees through his idea of the digital traveler, and how Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new Midfield Terminal (slated for completion in 2015) will accommodate the future traveler.
Asks Ibbitson, “Who is the digital traveler?” In the UAE (United Arab Emirates), “We have 176 percent mobile phone penetration, which means that every adult carries two mobile phones, and generally, it’s a Blackberry for business and an iPhone for personal,” relates Ibbitson. Digital travelers are ones who want to manage their own travel experiences very closely, he explains.
“Our digital traveler in Abu Dhabi is looking for technologies that speed up the process of getting through the airport. They use web check-in predominantly, or with the mobile phone where possible; they’ll use kiosk check-in and they want it for all airlines; they want optional upgrade payments; document checking; frequent flyer management; bag tag printing; and a simple self-service drop-off for baggage.
“If there’s a registered security screening program, our passengers will definitely register online and try to use it; they’re looking for mobile device applications for flight information, airport status; and if self-service boarding is available, they will try to use it.”
Travelers are also looking for free WiFi Internet access, says Ibbitson. “In our airport we deployed free WiFi a year and a half ago, and it’s been an amazing success,” he relates. “We also deployed many free Internet kiosks.
“We are very lucky to be in the design stages of a very major facility [Midfield Terminal]. We’ve considered IT totally as a utility within the building; in fact it is part of our utility master plan for the airport.
“We’re designing the cabling infrastructure like you would water or power with many consolidation points and junction boxes allowing for quick and easily deployment of new IT services in and around the airport.
The technology is not just limited to the digital passenger, relates Ibbitson. Abu Dhabi plans to accommodate for the digital aircraft, the digital ground handler, and digital baggage systems as well. “We are designing the entire WiFi infrastructure out and around the apron and aircraft areas to make sure that wherever whoever is working at our airport has access to our digital services,”
A self-service boarding trial has been requested by the airport’s major airlines, and the Midfield Terminal complex building has been designed with a space reservation for self-service boarding at every single gate, says Ibbitson. Depending on the success of the trial, the company will consider putting it into the final design of the building.
Los Angeles World Airport’s deputy executive director Dominic Nessi agrees with Ibbitson in looking at connectivity at the airport as a utility, not a luxury.
In Nessi’s vision of what airports will be like a decade from now, bandwidth and communication are going to be critical. He predicts that 3-D displays and a variety of different kinds of mobile devices and displays are going to be commonplace.
“Four technologies have impacted the airport environment: smaller and faster mobile devices; cloud computing; communication availability everywhere; and turning data into information,” or ‘business intelligence, explains Nessi.
“Companies like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP have spent some $15 million buying software firms that do nothing more than analyze data. Digital information is increasing ten-fold every five years and mobile phones are going to be a major input device into the cloud … the cloud will be collecting data on all of us through our mobile phones.” ‘The cloud’ refers to Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid.
Communication Infrastructure SOlutions are provided by SITA. Designed to address an airport's ever-changing and demanding communication challenges. Using SITA's global data network, turnkey...