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Airports to develop ‘smart airports’ with help of IT over next three years

Plan-aviation

New Delhi: Globally airports are expected to invest over $8 billion (Rs 52,056 crore) in information technology space this year as more and more aerodromes upgrade the facilities to enhance passengers’ experience, according to a survey.

The annual Airport IT Trends Survey, co-sponsored by Airports Council International (ACI) and SITA in association with Airline Business, also indicated that operators were looking to develop ‘smart airports’ over the next three years with IT playing a major role in shaping them up.

“The rate of investment in IT at airports around the world is rising. SITA estimates it will hit $8.7 billion in 2015.

This forecast is a climb from 5.82% of revenues in 2014 to 6.25% this year,” the survey said.

Airport Chief Information Officers (CIOs) were also predicting even higher budgets for 2016 with 64% expecting an increase over this year, it said adding, “nearly three quarters (73%) of airports consider passenger processing a high priority for IT investment, up from 59% last year.”

Noting that airports always have passengers as a high priority, SITA vice president for airport solution Matthys Serfontein said, “this year we see a clear acknowledgment that technology can help improve the passenger experience.” Airport CIOs are committing their rising budgets to introduce technologies such as beacons, mobile services and increased self-service, to make it easier for passengers as the world’s airports become increasingly busier, he said.

In addition, this year, 84% of airports see passenger and airport security as either a primary or secondary priority for IT investment, up from 76% in last year’s survey.

This highlights a growing determination by more airports to try and address a common pain point for passengers, he said.

“With 81% of airports investing in beacons and other sensors over the next three years, passengers can expect a more predictable journey through the airport as new features, such as wait time and walk time to the gate, become commonplace,” Serfontein said.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is certainly coming to airports as they commit to serving the ‘connected traveler’ by investing in sensor technology, Serfontein added.

The 2015 results came from respondents who collectively represent the views of more than 223 airports. They show the priority for improving the passenger experience as rising numbers put greater pressure on airport capacity and infrastructure.

The survey shows that by 2018, 80% of airports will use beacons to provide way-finding services and 74% to provide notifications to passengers.

By this time, more than half of the airports will have sensors in use at various points of the journey including check-in, bag drop, security, dwell time and boarding, it said.

Mobile services are also on the rise with 91% of airports planning to provide an app for navigating the airport and 83% for real-time notifications about day-of-travel information such as local traffic or queue time in the terminal, the survey said.

According to SITA survey, in 2015, around two out of five people turn up at the airport already checked-in, but for those who don’t, the kiosk is the next best thing.

Today, self-service check-in kiosks are almost universally available with nine out of ten airports having them in place, up from 75% in 2014, it said.

Overall results from this year’s survey indicate airport operators were looking to develop ‘smart airports’ over the next three years.

They are using sensors to connect people and things, and harnessing the power of data to make better and faster decisions, it said.

PTI