Planning for IT Development

Changing airport business models drive technology; encourage ownership


“The hardest thing to do for most airports is to determine ownership of the current technology,” explains Varwig. “Sorting ownership of systems is very important; part of our plan has more to do with the business of people and managing expectations of people than it does with technology. Technology is actually the simpler part.”

Smith has requested an executive management dashboard software program that will allow him to monitor, both financially and from an operations standpoint, the health of the airport from his office desktop computer.

“The program provides a real snapshot of the KPI (key performance indicators); it’s a very innovative approach,” says Varwig.

Another trend with regard to technology includes the consolidation of command and control centers, and the role they play in the daily operation of an airport. Command centers used to provide police, fire, and emergency response; “Now all these different departments are consolidating into a single center of operations for the simple fact that each department can share data better,” she says.

“We are doing a number of projects related to that; a lot of airports are moving in that direction.”

Another aspect to focus on when considering new technology is the overall operations and maintenance cost of that technology, relates Varwig. “That cost can be anywhere from five to 15 percent of the original capital cost,” she says. With regard to the cost of an IT master plan, Varwig says the expectation for an airport needs to be between $350,000 and $500,000; conducting an IT master plan is a six to eight month process.

ACRP and Faith Group to Develop IT Primer

Faith Group, LLC has been selected by the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) to develop a primer that will address the information needs of the airport
director, chief information officer, and the IT users and stakeholders.

Comments ACRP program manager Mike Salamone in a recent press release, the primer must “...bridge the communication gap between airport executives and IT professionals.”
Faith Group will use Web surveys and detailed airport case studies as the research instruments to collect data for inclusion in the primer, which will be scalable for small, medium, and large airports.

“The ACRP document provides a template for addressing technology needs at airports; it will be used by various airport departments to help with buying decisions related to technology,” says Faith Varwig, principal of St. Louis-based Faith Group.

The primer will address:

  • The role of IT in airport operations
  • Fundamental architecture concepts of IT systems
  • How to value IT systems
  • The principals of IT lifecycle management

More information on ACRP’s A Primer for Information Technology Systems at Airports can be found on the Transportation Research Board website; www.trb.org.

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