The Rise of Smart Airports: A Skift Deep Dive

#artificialintelligence 

In late September, Beijing unveiled to the world Daxing, a glimmering $11 billion airport showcasing technologies such as robots and facial recognition scanners that many other airports worldwide are either adopting or are now considering. Daxing fits the description of what experts hail as a "smart airport." Just as a smart home is where internet-connected devices control functions like security and thermostats, smart airports use cloud-based technologies to simplify and improve services. Of course, many of the nearly 4,000 scheduled service airports across the world are still embarrassingly antiquated. The good news for aviation is that more facilities are investing, finally, to better serve airlines, suppliers, and travelers. This year, airports worldwide will spend $11.8 billion -- 68 percent more than the level three years ago -- on information technology, according to an estimate published this month by SITA (Société Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques, an airline-owned tech provider). A few trends are driving the rise of smart airports. Flight volumes are increasing, so airports need better ways to process flyers. Airports need better ways to make money, too, by encouraging passengers to spend more in their shops and restaurants. Data is growing in importance. Everything happening at an airport, from where passengers are flowing to which items are selling in stores, generates data. Airports can analyze this data to spot opportunities for eking out fatter profits. They can sell the data to third-parties as well.

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