What the future of Airport Operational Databases looks like


Airport Operational Databases (AODB) are essential to managing critical airport data, including flight schedules, passenger information, gate assignments, baggage handling, security, aircraft movements, and more. But, rapid and sustained growth in air travel over the past decades has put many of these systems under stress.

While AODBs enable airports to streamline operations, improve stakeholder communication, and enhance passenger experiences, traditional AODBs face several challenges, including:

  • Data silos:

Most airports operate multiple disparate systems, leading to data silos and inefficient processes. Seamless integration between diverse systems can be complex to achieve.

  • Scalability:

As airport and passenger traffic grew, AODBs struggled to scale to the increasing breadth and volume of data generated by airports.

  • Real-time data:

In an era where real-time information is critical, especially in high-performance environments, traditional AODBs struggle to process data, leading to operational disruptions.

  • Interoperability:

AODBs weren´t always designed with interoperability in mind, making it challenging to integrate with emerging technologies and systems required to modernize and improve airport operations.

Despite these challenges, managing airport operational data remains vital. With technologs continuous push towards data-centricity, AODBs must evolve to cope with operational requirements and passenger expectations. 

Evolution in airport data management

Modern airports need a modern technology platform and IT architecture to seamlessly manage operations and traveler journeys. A modern AODB enables greater stakeholder collaboration, empowering them with the right digital services, insights, and agility to complete their jobs quickly and effortlessly. Key innovations driving AODB evolution include:

  • Cloud computing:

Cloud-based AODBs revolutionize data storage and processing, offering greater scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

  • Big data analytics:

The ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data in real time, providing valuable insights into operations, passenger behavior, and security, is transformational for airport management.

  • AI and ML:

AI-driven algorithms improve operational performance by predicting passenger flows or optimizing resource utilization, among other applications.

  • IoT:

Two-way communication between sensors and beacons drives unprecedented operations automation and optimization, like baggage tracking or security processes.

The future is now

There´s been much talk around the industry about whether AODBs are dead. Much of this talk stems from legacy AODB technologies and processes that struggle to keep up with the demands of our times. With an AODB at its core, an airport´s interconnected systems landscape ensures seamless airport operations and traveler journeys in an increasingly complex and data-driven environment. As part of that broader IT ecosystem, which continuously evolves and modernizes around them, AODBs need to be dynamic, scalable, and interoperable.

Discussions around the "AODB is dead" reflect the transformative changes happening in our industry. AODBs are not obsolete; instead, they are adapting to meet the evolving needs of airports, becoming more agile, data-centric, and capable of integrating with emerging technologies. As airports strive for efficiency, security, and passenger satisfaction, a modern AODB remains a critical component of their operations, albeit in an evolved and more sophisticated form. 

Author Info

Vishnu Mahadevan is a Lead Product Consultant with IBS Software's Airport Operations team. As an airport IT consultant, he develops and manages mission-critical applications for major international airports.
Currently he specializes in developing next gen airport systems by leveraging cloud, AI & ML technologies, to improve operational efficiency, resource utilization, and sustainability initiatives at airports. Vishnu is a postgraduate in technology, specialized in telecommunications engineering.

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