Think back five years – at that time most boarding card checks at the security checkpoint were manual with limited logging of information. Today, boarding cards are scanned at the automated boarding card control resulting in actual arrival times of all passengers passing through the security checkpoint. Another example is the automated tracking of passengers waiting for check-in through innovative sensor or video technologies.
Airports are collecting all this information – in more or less structured ways. A few airports have a single data warehouse where all information resides with significantly more airports developing one or more data warehouses. The collection of data builds the foundation for creating accurate input parameters for planning your airport operation – though a number of pitfalls exist.
Data collected in an operational environment contains a lot of “noise,” that is, a lot of inaccurate raw data, which must be discarded before the creation of input parameters to be used in the planning. The elimination of inaccurate data should follow best practice for outlier detection and be automated. Additionally, the accuracy of the input parameters should continuously be tracked as part of the evaluation of the performance of the operation and the plan. With such a structure in place, significant value can be gained from the data collected.
To exemplify a single input parameter, consider the images per passenger rate. Through our work with numerous European airports, we find that the x-ray machine is the bottleneck at the security checkpoint. To address this bottleneck, we need to estimate the image per passenger rate in 5-minute intervals across the day. This is done using data from x-ray machines on number of images processed every 5 minutes compared to doorway counts. In doing the analysis, we need to correct for any double passages of the doorway – this is typically done by comparing to boarding card scans as well.
We work with the data together with our clients, either as part of a consultancy project with a specific aim or when assisting with the calibration of input parameters for our Better Airport solution. No planning solution has a higher accuracy than the accuracy of its input parameters and hence our focus on creating as accurate input parameters as possible.
Should you be interested in better understanding what improved the use of data can do for you – get in touch!