Trust is the future of seamless travel

Last week Gospel Technology attended the IBM Maximo Airport Summit at London’s Heathrow. Although in its ninth year, this was Gospel’s first time.  Matt Eldrett gives his thoughts on what was a fascinating insight into the current and future landscape of aviation ecosystems.

Maximo is an Enterprise Asset Management software solution originally developed by Project Software & Development Inc with the first commercial version released 33 years ago. Purchased by IBM in 2005 it is currently branded as IBM Maximo Asset Management.

The IBM Maximo Airport Summit (thanks to Nils van Der Zijl – Director IBM Watson IoT Europe for the invite) was very well attended with representation from airports across Europe, IBM, PSDI, business partners and other innovative software companies like ourselves.

There was a good mix of knowledgeable customers describing exciting recent projects but also being refreshingly honest about the challenges and complexities that lie ahead for Airports, Airlines and their wider ecosystems. Those customer stories were then nicely blended with a range of emerging technology presentations covering diverse topics from AI to Augmented, Baggage to Blockchain, Sensors to Security.

Why did Gospel participate?

Aside the invite to participate directly from Nils, it became very clear that the one single reoccurring theme from almost all the speakers and the audience was that initiatives around AI, IoT, AR, smarter workflows, design efficiencies, retail and partner collaborations, end to end customer service, parking projects, (and more!) will require a digital twin (a virtual representation of a physical object or system across its lifecycle, using real-time data to enable understanding, learning and reasoning). In order to be effective, the digital twin requires:


Allow me to share a few poignant quotes from the two days:

“I have a lack of trust in my information”

“It is not clear who owns the data we are gathering. This is preventing collaboration, how can we resolve?”

“It feels like the airlines have all the passenger data and the airports don’t”

“The faster we can share the data, the better”

“We don’t share data, but may be able to in the future”

“There are islands of data not being used smartly enough”

“Delays in information delivery is a big challenge”

And why is all that collaboration important? Somebody at the event said “Look at how your journey through an airport has changed over the past 10 years”

If you think about it:

  • I can check-in online
  • I can choose my own seat online and book my luggage in
  • The car park now has number plate recognition technology or tag ID’s
  • I can jump on a driver-less pod from business parking to the terminal
  • I can just drop my bag and in general, the queue lengths have greatly reduced
  • I have an app with my boarding pass – so no more lost or crumpled paper
  • There are more choices for eating, shopping and business activities

Some key areas were not covered

In terms of security – Mmmmnn, I am sure technology has improved there but so have the number of threats and checks – and not an area we covered at the event – so I am no wiser there.  Has the average customer experience improved enough yet? I would say it still has a way to go.

What would a future airport experience look like?

So what’s next over the next 10 years? What does it look like in a connected data world? If that’s going to happen there is a big step change needed.

Here is how a journey might go sometime between now and 2028…

Speaking to my “Virtual Assistant” (Siri, Alexa, Echo, Watson) I ask to check options on my flight choices. I select my flight and book my seat (and any extras). After booking the flight I am offered transport choices for rail, drive etc. Choosing to drive I am given car park choices and then the choice to book right down to the space I want in the car park.

With this data, the airport knows who I am, what car I drive and which car park I have chosen to park in

With this data, the airport knows who I am, what car I drive and which car park I have chosen to park in. Further data points for analytics to benefit the airport and the passenger.

A few days before my flight I am sent reminders of my flight to complete my check-in online. At this point I am linked into the airline and ask to chose my in-flight meal (or advise that I would still like to choose from options on the day).

With this data, airlines can ensure the correct number of meals with minimal waste.

Fast forward to the day of or day / before travel and I am sent another notification asking me to send photos of my luggage to the airport.

This data helps to track my luggage through its journey but also assists the baggage control teams.

I am given assistance of when to leave for the airport. Do I want to eat before my flight? How much retail time do I want?

Using these data responses and using links to road network updates, weather data and airport status data will determine the optimum time to leave home for me.

The parking provider has now linked into my car sat nav and already preset the route and guide for me. The route will guide me directly to my space. On arrival at the car, park number plate recognition lets me in and activates a green light over the space I need. My car takes over the final part of the journey and parks for me.  Or maybe the car drops me at the transfer pod and then parks itself while I board a pod!

You get the idea right?

Once the airline and the airport have my historic and current data they could:

  • Provisionally book my meal choices
  • Provisionally book me a parking space
  • Start to send me details of a lunch offer from my favourite food outlet or a book offer for one of my favourite topics/authors.
  • I can be tracked by cameras to ensure I am not too far from my gate at an inappropriate time.
  • When I land I can get an update on the time my bag will hit the carousel
  • An UBER can be ready at a set time outside the airport
  • There could be a coffee waiting for me at my favourite coffee bar……

What about the Airport itself?

All of the airport assets (planes, trains, logistics, restrooms, etc) are being tracked and monitored using AI and IOT…..less things break thanks to predictive and conditional based maintenance. When they do they are fixed far faster…

When things run smoothly, more flights take off on time.

Predictability = efficiency.

The smart toilets are always clean – because they can shout for themselves when they’re not.  The trolleys can take themselves back to the entrance and check themselves in and out.

In summary  – travel should and will get easier in a connected world. That connected world needs connected data – trusted connected data.

Gospel Technology is a core component of digital twin projects in this industry. Trusted data is everything and will certainly underpin this exciting future.

For a 90 second summary of Gospel click here.

For an in-depth overview of the Gospel, solution click here.

Ask the team – many of your questions answered.

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