Airports are at the heart of urban transportation systems. And they ought to be! They bring cities closer to cities and nations closer to nations. Across the globe, airports are busy with the challenge of identifying and deploying emerging technologies that can enhance customer experience and operational efficiency. While Artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning are advancing in smart cities, airports are apparently turning into smart airports within cities.
The year 2018 witnessed dozens of airports introducing innovative technologies, spectacular architecture and communication infrastructure. Among these, we have handpicked three smart airports that excel in one sphere or another. So, let’s explore them one by one!
Hamad International Airport – Focus On Technology
Hamad International Airport (HIA) is the fifth ‘best airport in the world’ with number one ranking in the Middle East region. In April 2016, Qatar’s Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani inaugurated the Smart Airport programme that made the airport standout in the global airport rankings.
HIA launched 62 next-generation self-service check-in kiosks and 12 self-service bag drops with biometric technology capability. The initiative achieved success in collaboration with SITA and CCM.
The check-in kiosks are scattered across the departures check-in hall. Passengers are able to check-in, print boarding passes, and bag tags; tag their luggage and leave it at the bag drop before heading to the boarding control. Additionally, a mobile Automated Visa Document Check has been introduced which enables ground service operators to check passengers visa documentation before they board in. This state-of-the-art technology is one-of-a-kind in any major international airport across the world.
Currently, the self-service kiosks and bag drop facilities are available to Qatar Airways passengers since 15th October 2018. The service will be extended to foreign airline passengers in the near future.
Hamad International Airport is the home and hub of Qatar Airways and the airline’s five-star gateway to the world. The Smart Airport programme aims at making HIA the most technologically advanced and operationally efficient smart airports in the world.
The self-service kiosks are faster than the traditional methods, allowing passengers to process one bag in less than 50 seconds. As per the reports, the new launch is estimated to speed up the processing by 40%. This will significantly improve customer experience and allow more passengers to be processed without having to wait in long queues.
Due to HIA’s five-star customer service and the innovative terminal, the airport is a candidate for the “Best Airport in the World” in Skytrax World Airport Awards 2019.
San Diego International Airport – Focus On Environment
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is the one and only airport (out of eight) to win the ‘Airports Going Green Award’ sponsored by the Chicago Department of Aviation. Thanks to its three innovative programmes that lead the airport to win an international environmental award. These programmes intend to reduce greenhouse emissions, counterbalance carbon emissions and stop the food waste going into the landfills.
1. TNC Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programme
This programme is working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation network companies operating at the airport. These transportation companies include rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. The initiative encourages transportation networks to use better alternatives to fossil-fuel vehicles by offering incentives. These may include switching to hybrid vehicles or trip reduction via carpool and rematch. Upon reaching the established targets for emission reductions, every company receives a discount on the fee they pay per airport trip. This initiative has succeeded in reducing carbon emissions by 30%.
2. The Good Traveller
This initiative was launched by SAN in 2015. This is a non-profit collaboration between airports that allows passengers to purchase carbon offsets promoting the balance of environmental impact of their flight. A two-dollar purchase offsets 1,000 miles of air travel. The profits are then contributed to projects like wind farms, wetland restoration, and forestation that aid in fighting out greenhouse gases. Until now, the Good Traveller initiative has offset the impact of 135 million miles of air travel.
3. Food Recovery Programme
As the name suggests, the initiative aims at diverting the food waste from the landfills by donating edible food to the needful. This began with an airport-wide composting effort that accumulated more than 365 tons of food waste in 2017. Over 54,000 pounds of food equal to 4,000 meals were donated to those in need.
San Diego International Airport demonstrates the immediate environmental capabilities of airports. These initiatives are a scalable solution not just for the major airports worldwide but even for the domestic counterparts. In fact, some of these programmes can even be implemented at major railway and metro stations around the world.
Singapore Jewel Changi Airport – Focus On Architecture And Beyond
It is not just the Singapore city that is ranked as the world’s smartest. Even its airport tops the global rankings. Singapore’s Changi Airport has bagged the title of ‘best airport in the world’ for six years in a row with more to its pride launched in 2018.
The airport is opening its extension in the form of 10-storey building with 5 storeys underground and 5 above ground. This project named as ‘Jewel Changi’ is about to inaugurate in the year 2019. The entire building is a multiplex with airport facilities, retail, leisure outlets, dining outlets, green parks and world-class accommodation space for weary travelers. Hence, Singapore Changi Airport will go beyond the limits of being addressed as an airport. Because it is developing a place not just for passengers but even for visitors to come and relax by.
1. Sustainable Architecture
The Jewel Changi airport has been developed by a consortium of architects with a steel and glass facade. The building includes a 5-storey garden called ‘Forest valley’ with thousands of trees, ferns, and shrubs. The passengers will be able to take a hike up the valley with nature brought indoors. Additionally, the airport has a Rain Vortex which is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall and the centre of attraction. The waterfall is 40-metre high with its beauty intensifying at night with colourful lights. The top floor of the building houses a Canopy Park with gardens, walking trails, playgrounds, and food courts covering about 13,000 square meters of area. Furthermore, it will have an “integrated multi-modal transport lounge” by international hotel brand YOTEL with more than 130 rooms. The guests at the hotel will be enabled with services like ticketing, boarding pass, and baggage transfer.
The Changi Airport comprises four main programmes which include Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST), Service Workforce Instant Feedback Transformation (SWIFT), the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM), and System and Arrival Flight, Predictor. All the initiatives are in line with making the customer experience more delightful. Along with a spectacular architecture, the airport is integrated with the latest technologies such as sensors, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. A marvelous blend of user-centric architecture and technology is set to enhance the customer experience while improving productivity.
Right from the point passengers arrive at the terminal to their flight takes off, they get to enjoy a smooth, hassle-free and convenient journey. Smart airports are a real reflection of smart cities. These are just three examples with the global top ten list of Skytrax World Airport Awards 2018, coming up next.