Changi, Aena, HIA, Malaysia Airports and Huawei talk about digital transformation and the need for industry-wide collaboration

Digital transformation in the transport sector has advanced rapidly thanks to innovations such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. The widespread use of this technology in the aviation sector was the main focus during a recent virtual event hosted by FTE and Huawei on “How next-generation technology can reboot and reinvent global airports”. Here we share some of the key takeaways from the webinar, while the full recording is now available to watch here.

The webinar began with a keynote speech by Moussa Huang, Director of Global Aerospace Business, Huawei Enterprise BG, who explained how Huawei supported the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of innovative digital technologies. . For example, during the crisis, the tech company helped Shenzhen Airport consolidate multiple data sources into a unified data lake and build algorithms and data models to quickly deliver scenario-based solutions. Impressively, Huang pointed out that it only took three weeks to create the model and app to manage the airport’s pandemic prevention measures. “We must seize opportunities to rebuild smart airport systems and prepare for the global recovery. Huawei believes that the combination of advanced ICT and industry know-how will be key to ensuring success,” he said.

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Building on this, Huawei’s Chief Digital Officer, Global Aviation, Andy Bien, then explained how airports can use technology to survive and remain resilient in the face of disruption. “Having a strong and reliable open cloud stack is very important,” he pointed out, referring to a recent example from Shenzhen Airport. The airport was able to build its intelligent booth allocation solutions application using existing assets in just three weeks, thanks to Huawei’s cloud stack. The solution reduced allocation time from four hours to one minute.

Bien also focused on how artificial intelligence (AI) can reduce the burden on human resources and increase passenger satisfaction when used for customer service. Operationally, AI can be used for AI air bridge allocation, which Huawei has already implemented at Shenzhen airport, as well as AI turnarounds. Another application of AI he highlighted is in the airside autonomous operations division. Huawei is also a pioneer in 5G technology and Bien shared that at Hong Kong International Airport, the company provided the first private 5G network for airports to enable the vision of a self-sustaining airport city.

Bien also provided Huawei’s forward-looking view on technology trends that will define the future by 2025, including bots, AR/VR, intelligent personal digital assistants, Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) and Moreover.

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The second presentation was made by Amparo Brea Álvarez, Director of Innovation, Sustainability and Customer Experience at Aena, who presented the airport group’s new strategic plan launched last year, which is based on three pillars fundamentals:

  • From passenger to customer – “Using data to achieve individual knowledge of passengers who use the airport in order to offer them a personalized experience”
  • Efficient use of resources – “Automate airport management processes and evolve towards as-a-service models”
  • Beyond the airport – “Explore new professions around sustainable mobility”

“Our vision is to be leaders in the use of digital tools to optimize the passenger experience, increase operational efficiency and develop new businesses around sustainability,” he said. she declared.

During his presentation, Álvarez also shared some examples of how the airport has applied technology, including testing video analytics, biometrics, drones and AI virtual assistants.

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Joe Chui, Vice President, Digital & Data Management Systems, Changi Airport Group, then introduced attendees to the airport’s digital and cultural transformation journey, which dates back to 2011, when the airport’s first mobile app was launched. developed. Fast forward to today, and Changi’s app has transformed into a digital assistant, providing travelers with information on flight updates, arrival PCR tests, food delivery, cards, integrated payment systems and much more. Chui said that during the app development process, his team followed Amazon’s famous method of “building with the customer in mind and working backwards.”

Chui further emphasized the need to learn from innovative companies outside the airport industry like Amazon, Spotify, Disney, Microsoft and Apple. “It’s very important for us to go beyond the paradigm and bring in new ideas. Innovation doesn’t need to be limited to what we’re used to doing, and you don’t always need to stick to one way to solve a problem,” he said. . This way of thinking has led the Changi team to focus on four fundamental principles – the customer rather than the products; experiences rather than certainty; agility rather than perfection; community on the silos.

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Vijaykumar Dayinde, Chief Information Officer, Malaysia Airports, shared Malaysia Airports’ digital innovation framework, called Airports 4.0, which focuses on four key themes of digital transformation: terminal operations, passenger experience , staff mobility, safety and security.

Malaysia Airports has already launched a number of integrated initiatives such as mobile app, monitoring for crowd management and retail analytics, single token for contactless and seamless passenger experience, connectivity and Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) to realize its vision of “connected and digital”. airport”.

“For all these digital initiatives that we wanted to launch, we needed a strong network technology foundation,” he explained. “So in 2020, we launched our network refresh project in a record time of 4.5 months together with Huawei, which usually takes 12-18 months.” The network refresh project enables KLIA and KLIA2 to now be compatible with advanced technologies such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI. The new network will also have at least 10 times the capacity of the previous network, ranging from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps port speed at the core, with scalability up to 400 Gbps. Digital technology such as an ACDM system will also help the airport collaborate more effectively with its airline partners through real-time information sharing.

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The last presentation was made by Suhail Kadri, Senior Vice President Technology & Innovation, Hamad International Airport, who explained how the airport is preparing for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Qatar in November, by investing heavily in airport infrastructure, safety, security and operational systems.

“Before even getting into the technology, the most important thing is the facilities. We need to have adequate physical capacity to be able to handle arrivals and departures during peak hours,” Kadri said. Indeed, HIA is currently undergoing major expansion projects, comprising Phases A and B. Phase A of the current expansion will include a central concourse connecting Concourses D and E, which will increase the capacity of the airport to over 53 million passengers a year by September. 2022. Phase B, which will be completed after 2022, will expand Concourses D and E to further increase the airport’s capacity to over 60 million passengers per year. The expansion plan also includes 11,720 m² of landscaped retail and dining space, which will enhance the five-star airport’s multidimensional offerings by integrating a world-class art collection and a refreshing green environment with contemporary retail and dining concepts among other leisure attractions. and facilities under one expansive terminal.

Kadri mainly focused on implementing enabling technologies in the new physical space, such as smart security control lanes, wireless connectivity, cybersecurity, biometrics, computer vision, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Beyond the World Cup, Kadri shared that the focus will be on data-driven digital transformation to drive operational excellence, customer experience, revenue and sustainability. The airport is also creating a “digital twin” designed to provide real-time 3D visual situational awareness of what is working well and what needs attention to maintain operational excellence in the class passenger experience. world of HIA.

The webinar was also an opportunity for panelists to answer questions from the audience regarding prioritizing which technologies to invest in, leveraging data and digital platforms to create new business models, and moving towards better technology interoperability. . The overall takeaway from the discussion was the need to collaborate to deliver a seamless and unified end-to-end passenger experience and create greater efficiencies through digital means.

Watch the full on-demand webinar recording here >>

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