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IT Last modified on July 27, 2018

Asset protection

Information conveyed by social media can help airports protect their brands and customers, writes Jonathan Barrett, Dataminr’s managing director for Europe.

In recent years, the aviation industry has felt the profound impact that social media can have on customer service, safety and brand reputation.

From viral videos like the live streamed video taken from inside the Southwest Airlines flight during its emergency landing after an engine failure, to on-the-go Twitter complaints about poor service or delays; social media has become the go-to source for venting frustrations, sharing anecdotes and addressing brands directly.

It has also become a vital tool for an airport’s PR team. Not only are they able to review text-based feedback, but most social posts now include images and videos, which are invaluable resources to get a full scope of events, as they occur.

However, as with many brand interactions on social media, these platforms can quickly become a megaphone for disgruntled passengers, and aviation brands are incredibly vulnerable when it comes to their consumer perception.

Understanding social media and the information it can provide works to multiple ends. It is not just brilliant for monitoring customer perception and notifying when incidents occur, but it also gives communications teams the option of communicating directly with passengers.

This can help to defuse situations before they even begin. Through immediate and direct customer engagement in reaction to a social media comment, minor discrepancies can be nipped in the bud and escalated quickly, before they cause a bigger problem.

However, when it comes to larger disturbances such as reports of suspicious activity, the situation becomes more complex. External communications must be carried out quickly and decisively, working in tandem with all other aspects of the airport’s operations. It is here we see the wider use case for social media, which is currently being under-utilised from a risk management perspective.

Security lies at the foundation of every operation within the airport, for good reason. In such a high stakes environment, the security team has a responsibility to ensure the protection of customers, staff and property alike.

Across the sprawl and complexity of a multi-terminal airport, this can prove a challenge without the best risk management assets. Therefore, at the heart of the security function lies one critical resource: real-time relevant and actionable data.

It is vital for security teams to be continuously informed of unforeseen events as they happen, so that this insight can be turned into action almost instantaneously. When protecting people and assets in such a high pace environment, the speed of data delivery and response is absolutely paramount.

In modern society, information has transformed from fragmented streams into a free-flowing river of data, whereby social, weather, traffic and news data live synergistically to create a wealth of insight.

Moreover, with it being commonplace for people to constantly have smartphones and social media at hand, this information breaks faster than ever before. It is here that airport security teams can gain a crucial time advantage.

However, with masses of data comes the issue of extracting useful insight from the sea of noise. With over 500 million tweets being sent per day, for example, this information can be seemingly impossible to penetrate.

To maximise the effectiveness of these insights, corporate security teams must be armed with the right tools to personalise and analyse these data streams in a way that highlights the data that is most important, first and fast.

Through the latest technologies, security and communications teams alike can be empowered with the fastest possible indication of breaking events.

The gift of time cannot be understated in an industry with such high stakes, and social media data is the core enabler for credible information at speed.

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