Transform With Technology

Airport IT organizations are driving innovation and automation, supporting all aspects of operation and preparing the industry for the future

“Another challenge for airports particularly in the U.S. is standardization, and to all be doing something the same way. European Union airports have gone into a mode called collaborative decision making (CDM); I think that is something that we can do better in the U.S.”

Nessi relates that LAX has an IT governance committee, which includes all the deputies of the airport. “That is another new direction that airports should be following — to actually govern IT at the highest levels of the organization,” he adds.

“At a recent meeting, topics included: truck digital radios; a request for the new A SDE-X ground radar to be implemented; a parameter intrusion detection concept of operations; and e-Discovery for email archiving.

“Think about those four themselves … they are so varied in what they are doing, but they are expansive projects, and they touch every aspect of everybody.”

The Further Extension Of Self Service

Molloy says there will be a few things happening in the next couple of years that will enhance self-service passenger processing. The first is biometric passports and travel documents. “A lot of the things we are constrained from doing today are due to security concerns,” he says.

“What we are about to see coming down the pipeline is biometric technology, where your face is imbedded on a chip in the passport, and a kiosk can verify your identity.

“That allows the airport to go further in bringing services to the passenger. For example, it may allow us to treat the concierge at a local hotel as an airport agent, and to have the concierge accept bags from passengers going to the airport … and the airport authority could have trucks that pick up baggage form various hotels and convention centers, and we would offer this baggage-drop service on a permanent basis on off site locations.

“Even now, the new terminal in Las Vegas is supplemented with some 17 different off site check-in locations.”

Molloy says the ‘simplified travel’ part of his title means to essentially work with his business partners to bring innovation and automation to them.

“And it is an incentive for airline partners to continue to do business here. The couple million dollars on self-service technology as opposed to the $100 million facility expansion, at the end of the day, the airlines get the bill for all of that — now they are getting smaller bills.”

Domestically, some 80 percent of YVR’s passengers are printing their own bag tags at the airport.

Jenkins agrees, stating, “I am looking at collaboration wherever I can. When KLM was here, some 94 percent of its passenger processing was done by self-service devices.

“We are looking at self-boarding … because the airport has the ability today to, if an airline uses part of the integrated paging system — thanks to the integration with Air IT and the AODB (airport operating database), and what we have with CUTE and SITA, the airline can set up automated audible announcements to facilitate the self-boarding process.

“That could allow a carrier to have one gate agent as opposed to three. We have some carriers using some of that functionality now.”

The Cybersecurity Threat

Cybersecurity has become one of the most top-of-mind issues of the day, relates Molloy. “We have not seen anyone breach through all of our layers of security, but we have seen probes. We know the nature of the threats, but we don’t know the details.

“So what keeps me awake at night? For me, that fits into two categories. One is more related to complexity, and that is — the complexity of our technical environment is exceeding the complexity of our IT support team.

“It’s very hard with this diversity to keep a small team abreast of all technology at all times. Innovation and business cycles are measured in months, not in years anymore. Are we going to get ahead of ourselves? Are we going to put in so many solutions that we can’t actually sustain them.”

And two, he adds, is the increased number of threats, and the increased capabilities in the cybersecurity space.

Says Jenkins, “I am averaging more than 5 million attacks per month. From a bandwidth and data intrusion perspective, given the applications we support, I have several individuals completely dedicated to ensuring the support and maintenance of the security and integrity of this airport.

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