Letter from the Editor: Collaborative thinking and shared learning is key to developing IT and security in our industry
With airports constantly challenged to keep up with the opportunities and associated risks brought about by advances in technology, Tara Nolan looks ahead to this year’s Airport IT & Security conference for some answers.
Within our industry – and our lifestyles – technology and its potential applications are developing each day. All airports are faced with the challenge of keeping up with these and using them to address the growing demand for air travel, whilst ensuring security measures remain effective. Our annual Airport IT & Security conference, this year held in London in September, will offer answers, success case studies and future predictions within both the IT and security sectors.
Will we one day see an airport journey where every touchpoint is digitised and security measures are impenetrable? I am not sure. But if the aviation industry is anywhere close to this, it will be discussed at Airport IT & Security 2019.
To give you a taster of the insights and information that will be debated, I have gathered some of this year’s appearances that are definitely not to be missed.
Day one at Airport IT & Security 2019
As the digital revolution continues, new technological systems – and their potential benefits to businesses – are unearthed. It could be argued that data was one of those. Highly publicised in the media, especially during the introduction of GDPR in 2018, data quickly became a more frequently discussed topic. Businesses began to further explore the various uses for data and airports were no exception.
Now, many airports are using data applications to optimise day-to-day operations and improve passenger experience. A key element of this is data-sharing across departments and organisations. However, there are still many who are unsure of the best way to use data, and what this means for the passenger.
Clarification is definitely needed on the topic of data-sharing, which is what makes the ACRIS (Airport Community Recommended Information Services) session so influential. This ACI initiative sets the standard for information and data exchange in the aviation community, helping airports meet the demands of today and the growing needs of the future. Serge Yonke Nguewo will be covering how the service-oriented architecture of ACRIS can help speed up Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) and how it allows players to become more aligned. He will be followed by Nikos Papagiannpoulos from Athens International Airport, who will address the opportunities and challenges that trusted and secure data-sharing, data-driven intelligence and understandable AI can bring to aviation stakeholders. He will focus on Athens International Airport as a case study, where a data-sharing and analytics platform was developed as part of the ICARUS research and innovation project.
With the help of the ICARUS platform, Athens International Airport has been able to develop various descriptive and predictive analytics that are interrelated to the core airport capacity problem and I am looking forward to learning more about this process.
Panel Discussion: Automation – How far can automation go in airports, the good and perhaps the not so good
Although sometimes slightly daunting, automation offers us more time, accuracy and efficiency. We have already begun to see how automated technology can be implemented within airports: Biometric border checks, FRAnny the robot, chatbots and alternative transportation methods to name a few, but how far will we take it? This is a question many passengers are beginning to ask.
In response to this, we have included a panel discussion within the first day of Airport IT & Security 2019 to evaluate previous implementations of automation, the investment required for the technology and how far the aviation industry is predicting this technology to go.
The panel, comprising of Gavin Jackson from Gatwick, Tara Mulrooney from Edmonton International, Alan Pritchard from Farrpoint and Stuart Hutson from Manchester Airports Group, will also explore the fear of the unknown, addressing the wariness of removing human interaction from processes. I predict this panel discussion will unearth some thought-provoking, futuristic debates.
Chris Woodroofe is an industry-leading figure within the aviation sector, responsible for operating the world’s most efficient single runway, and it is with great pleasure we host his keynote address in the first day of Airport IT & Security 2019’s security stream.
I am very much looking forward to his opening keynote address, assured that quality insights into the aviation industry and security sector will be shared. This 30-minute presentation will no doubt be a highlight of our conference – make sure you have a pen and paper to hand to note down some quotes!
When airport security is brought into conversation, we frequently jump straight to the security-check terminal touchpoint: An imperative aspect of security of course. However, security measures at an airport begin landside and it is useful to remind ourselves what this should contain, and how it can be improved.
Wilfried Covent, Senior Security Expert at Brussels Airport, is hosting a session just before lunch on day one to cover how to respond to evolving landside threats. Exploring prevention, deterrence and incident management, and how to address this in procedures to reduce risk, this session is one that I expect to learn a lot from.
Day two at Airport IT & Security 2019
How can we create new digital products and services faster than previously done? The modern-day passenger demands continuous connectivity and access to real-time information. With the increasing use of online purchasing, airports need to develop their non-aeronautical revenue streams to remain competitive.
How can we share data with partners in order to increase efficiency? How can we capitalise on the vast amount of data collected within an airport? In order to find answers to these questions, Zurich Airport set up a cross-divisional team and launched project ZRH Data Marketplace. Mark Schwarz from the airport will discuss how data can be utilised and monetised to do just this.
The concept of the Data Marketplace is to enable an easy and demand-driven sharing of data with internal departments, existing and future partners. I look forward to hearing about how to use this to create new business models, products and services.
IATA and ACI’s NEXTT vision is quickly gaining traction across the world – I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about it in-depth with the webinar series we have recently hosted for them.
The NEXTT vision addresses growing capacity issues – a challenge affecting all airports – and the need to maximise the use of infrastructure and become more efficient in processing.
This panel, including Chris Au Young and Simon Wilcox, will explore the success case studies implemented at their respective airports, as well as future ideas and how these will shape the face of air travel.
Many predict this vision will continue to impact airports across the globe and become the norm for air travel, making this session not one to forget about!
A shortage of skilled workforce is a potential worry across all aspects of the airport. In response to this, many airports are launching more apprenticeship schemes and ensuring their workforce is diverse and inclusive.
The security sector within airports is one that cannot be subject to staff shortages. It is because of this that I am eagerly anticipating Johnnie Müller’s presentation.
This is an important topic that needs to be discussed – but one that rarely is. Johnnie will cover how the role of security staff is likely to change due to increasing automation of processes, but most importantly, the need to invest in the training of frontline security staff – both old and new.
As passengers with malicious intent change how they try to conceal contraband, airports have enhanced screening equipment to ensure risks remain detected. Computed tomography, terahertz radiation and blockchain are now being deployed within screening equipment to ensure that airports remain one step ahead. But the threat is not distinguished, and these technologies must continue to evolve.
One of the proposed methods to combat this, whilst assisting with the airport capacity issue, is risk-based screening. This type of screening helps identify which passengers are high risk and which low.
Within this session, Guido Peetermans from IATA will cover the current challenges an airport may face when introducing risk-based screening, alongside how it can benefit the efficiency of airport operations.
Look forward to seeing you in September
The above are just a few of the inspiring sessions that will be featured at Airport IT & Security 2019. Across 25-26 September, the two conference days are packed full of presentations from industry leaders, networking opportunities and product demonstrations. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the plethora of IT and security case studies that will be explored in depth. It could be said that this year’s event is the most inspiring one we’ve hosted so far – the full conference programme is available here if you don’t believe me!
Make sure you book your place and join me at the Hilton Bankside London, I look forward to meeting you.
Tara Nolan, Editor, International Airport Review
Airport crisis management, Aviation technology, Big data, Biometrics, Cyber security, Information technology (IT), New technologies, Passenger experience & seamless travel, Recruitment & training, Safety, Security, Terminal operations