SITA is encouraging airport operators to factor technology into their construction plans. The company noted that many international airports had been ramping up to meet rising traffic volumes prior to the pandemic, and that some of those projects are still moving forward (albeit at a slower rate) in anticipation of rebounding numbers in the future. That’s especially true in the United States, where a 2019 report found that many regional airports had fallen behind the pace of innovation and were in dire need of updates before COVID-19.
The problem, of course, is that the pandemic has hampered the air travel industry, and limited the resources that are available for digital transformation. With that in mind, SITA is arguing that airports can optimize their operations while minimizing costs if they can identify and build around their technology needs.
So what kinds of factors should airports be considering? According to SITA, airports should be prioritizing biometric, contactless, and self-service technologies. Biometrics can support a smoother travel journey, while self-service kiosks, e-gates, and bag drop stations negate the need for dedicated employee workstations and allow airports to save on materials costs. The kiosks also enable more flexible layouts that support social distancing requirements.
However, airports will need to make sure that they provide the necessary infrastructure to support those technologies. Taking those technologies into account early on will ensure that all areas with IoT devices have a stable internet connection, and that there is good camera and power coverage throughout the entire building. It will also help future-proof the airport, since new technologies can easily be integrated into the space if the technological foundation is solid.
By the same token, airport operators will not need to spend as much money on redesigns if the projects are built right in the first place. Meanwhile, the data captured with cameras and self-service kiosks can be used to make an airport’s day-to-day operations more efficient.
SITA itself has already installed its Smart Path passenger processing tech at airports in San Francisco and Istanbul. In the latter case, boarding times went down a full 30 percent, which translated to better turnaround times, lower carbon emissions, and a better travel experience for passengers and airplane staff alike. The company now has one airport construction project in development, after announcing that it would be working with Siemens to build a new, modern terminal for Kansas City International Airport.
September 2, 2021 – by Eric Weiss