• December 22, 2016

Flights of Fancy: Transforming the Airport Experience

Blend mobility, IoT, and analytics to impress customers.

If you have a long layover while traveling, the best place to be is Singapore’s Changi Airport. The facility is renowned for passenger comfort and amenities including movie theaters, rooftop pools, butterfly gardens, and spas.

To build on this best-in-class status, Changi officials are working to improve the passenger experience with “intelligent airport” technology. The intelligent airport is a concept that uses a suite of technologies—enterprise mobile applications, Internet of Things, and analytics—to reduce waiting times, enhance security, provide passengers with real-time flight status updates, and numerous additional conveniences.

Changi and many other airports, along with IT vendors and service providers (including Hewlett Packard Enterprise with its Connected Traveler offering), are working out the details on how to optimize this technology for the benefit of airport operators and passengers. With airports becoming aggressive early adopters, enterprises in other industries, including retail, hospitality, healthcare, the public sector, and even manufacturing, can look to how the intelligent airport evolves for insight into how these technologies can be applied to their businesses.

More Than Catching a Flight

The Internet of Things (IoT), using electronic beacons and mobile technologies such as phones, single-passenger tokens using biometry, bar codes or digital bag tags, and wearable technologies such as Google Glass and Apple Watch, can be used to monitor crowd and equipment movement or lack of movement. Coupled with analytics, airport and airline operations managers could be alerted in real time, for example, when passenger bottlenecks occur at checkpoints and immediately dispatch more personnel where needed.

Enterprise mobile applications could ease travelers’ frustrations and actually make the airport experience enjoyable. For example, during your layover in Changi, you could use your phone to find out how long it takes to walk to the closest spa. And, by estimating the walking time from there to the gate for your connecting flight, your phone would let you know whether to book a 60-minute massage or settle for a 30-minute appointment. Contextual mobile apps could then provide a few choices of restaurants in the terminal. You could order a meal to be prepared while you relax in the spa and have it delivered to you at the gate minutes before you board.

Behind the scenes, the airline learns that thunderstorms have forced your plane to take a longer route and will arrive late. A mobile flight status alerts you, and you can now book a 60-minute massage, after all.

Aerodynamic Data

Intelligent airport technology can do much more, including streamlining operations on the tarmac and in the skies. What may be most interesting to other industries, though, is exactly how apps and services will be tailored for passengers.

Intelligent airport developers can tap into hordes of information, but industry experts point out that passengers don’t want streams of raw data. They, like most users, want information presented clearly and simply, in the most useful format to address their needs. The best solutions will give travelers the most relevant information at precisely the right time. Watch how airports tailor this technology for users to gain insight on how your industry could emulate them.

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