Total Airport Management – what role for knowledge?

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Last week in Cologne the global airport industry came together for the annual Passenger Terminal Expo event. A key theme in the conference this year was the on-going drive from airports and their suppliers towards Total Airport Management (TAM), foreseen by many as the logical endpoint of a journey that started with the A-CDM initiative. TAM foresees joined-up management of the airport operations processes in their entirety, including landside and airside, and is underpinned by robust information systems.

Subsequently, in walking the floor of the exhibition and browsing the wares of the airport IT providers, it was clear to see how the technology solutions are developing to support TAM. Whilst the IT processes for control of the airfield operation are already mature and deployed in an increasing number of airports that are A-CDM capable, the processes for control of the terminal operations are still undergoing active development. There's a dramatic increase in the number of systems and sensors that TAM IT solutions are linking into for data. From finance systems for transactions to advanced passenger tracking systems for flow, queue and revenue optimisation, all are providing pieces of data - some of which is being turned into real-time analytics to assist in the management of the operation.

Despite the copious quantities of information and automation becoming available, what appears still to be lacking is how this translates to genuine knowledge and understanding of the operation. Without the implementation of AlphaGo-esque artificial intelligence this, for now, remains the prerogative of the human in the process. This places an increased need on airport operations teams to have resources focussed on using the information available to them to build knowledge of the operation. Armed with this knowledge they will be better positioned to make the strategic trade-offs between service quality, resilience, cost, environment and performance that will ensure the operation is delivering what the airport needs.

Much of our work involves helping airports to gain genuine understanding from large operational datasets so that they can better plan for and overcome operational challenges. To discuss your requirements, please get in touch.

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Steve Leighton
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