- Substantially improved passenger and employee experience and convenience by offering self-services, avoiding queues, providing timely notifications, connectivity and collaboration, leisure, congestion management, digital guided navigation, shopping and retail offers, to name just a few.
- Operational excellence and efficiency for shared services facilities.
- Drive workforce productivity and real-time collaboration for ground staff.
- Innovative, value-added revenue generating services.
- Asset tracking with improved transparency, visibility and reliability.
- Sustainability: smart energy, emissions, water and waste management.
- Smart security, including biometrics, track & trace systems, video surveillance & analytics, smart security gates and smart healthcare services.
But there is always a price to pay. Increased connectivity through the digitization of everything and the ubiquity of IoT devices is a double-edged sword and although it enables new security solutions as referred to previously, it also creates new threats by increasing the attack surface.
Moreover, IoT devices, due to their limited hardware and software capabilities, might pose a substantial risk if not managed properly. The aviation industry is aware of these cybersecurity challenges and is working very hard to address them.
Understanding the role of IoT and IIoT devices
The airport represents a key element in overall aviation industry safety and security. In this article we are going to shed some light on the deep transformation that is taking place at the airports, involving a fascinating journey from traditional legacy infrastructures to state of the art Airports of Things (AoT).
We use the term Airport of Things to reflect the important role that IoT and IIoT devices are playing in this transformation.
The potential opportunities for IoT to add value to the airport ecosystem are countless improving passenger experience while at the same time increasing revenue for the airlines, operators and concessionaries. Let’s take a look:
- Streamlined access control, passenger identification and departure processes: use of advanced biometrics will simplify identification, even eradicating the need for travel documents. A series of biometric touchpoints which recognize passengers at any checkpoint such as baggage drops, security checkpoints and immigration clearance. This will hugely simplify airport access, streamlining security checkpoints, reducing queues, as well as optimizing check-in processes.
- Personalisation: leveraging IoT sensors and devices, biometrics, behavioral analytics and geolocation, airports will be able to deliver a completely personalized experience to both passengers and employees at the airport.
- Improve customer service with real-time, relevant information: passengers can get real-time updates about estimated waiting time at security lines, locations of specific airline check-in counters, gates, baggage belts, restaurants, shops, etc. Moreover, detailed and accurate information about flight delays, parking availability, emergencies could be delivered in a convenient and personalized way. The opportunities to reduce friction at the airport and to boost the customer experience are countless.
- Boarding: will become a self-service process with passengers just needing to pass through an automatic electronic barrier.
- In-Flight experience: IoT sensors might be integrated in the aircraft seats, measuring multiple passenger variables to increase safety and comfort level.
- Luggage tracking: IoT beacons and RFID tag technology might be used for luggage tracking providing real-time information about luggage location.
- Operational improvements and cost efficiency: IoT and IIoT will simplify the management and maintenance of a variety of devices such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, information boards, kiosks etc, offering greater visibility on an enterprise-wide scale.
- Maintenance of critical airport assets: sensors on critical airplane and airport elements will be able to provide maintenance staff with real-time information with regards to the part status and when it needs to be replaced or repaired.
- Fuel efficiency: IoT applications might improve the overall fuel costs and consumption, which have substantial impact in the airline’s bottom line.
- Automation: improving operational efficiency, lowering costs and simplifying the overall operation.
Infographic: The Airport of Things (AoT) in Press Quality
Summary and Conclusions
The opportunity to leverage IoT and IIoT technologies to modernize airports is obvious. They are playing a key role now and will continue being instrumental in the transition to the Smart Airport or the Airport of Things as we purposely named it.
Nevertheless, leveraging these opportunities brings new challenges and risks.
We need to assure that these devices are properly secured before they are plugged in and the risk of an increased attack surface, properly addressed.