Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on how IT and new technology continue to transform the way we travel and airports do business.
Beam me up, Scotty!
Such is the rapid advancement of technology today that I think most of us now believe that almost anything is possible, and this is particularly true for the aviation industry, which remains a pioneer in the development, testing and adoption of new, game-changing IT systems.
Although the technology portrayed in Sci-Fi classics like ‘Star Trek’ may still be pure fantasy, with commercial space travel seemingly just around the corner, who knows what new IT driven developments we can expect at airports in the future?
For those of you who believe that things aren’t moving that fast in terms of new technology, just think back a little and remember when you first heard the term ‘biometrics’, let alone knew what it involved? It was probably no longer than 10 to 15 years ago, right? Yet, today, it is a proven technology that is in use at airports across the world and will undoubtedly play an even bigger role in the way we travel in the future.
The Auto Bag Drop (ABD) units at Singapore Changi’s newly opened Terminal 4 utilise biometric technology, for example, and biometrics are at the heart of numerous expedited screening programmes and most new initiatives designed to enhance passenger facilitation and security levels at the world’s airports.
However, perhaps the best example of how technology has advanced in recent years are smartphones, particularly if you recall that most people didn’t have a mobile phone until the mid to late 1990s.
Indeed, I remember being at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport in 1995 when there was a medical emergency at the departure gate, and only a handful of people around me had a mobile phone, one of which was used to call for help that I believe proved crucial in saving a life.
If the same incident happened today, not only would everybody have a phone and be able to call for help, but the incident would be recorded and transmitted around the world for everyone to see in seconds via social media!
In terms of travelling, mobile phones can, of course, today be used for everything from checking in and paying for goods at airport shops to displaying boarding passes that can be scanned and verified at security and boarding gates. And, once again, there is so much more to come.
The potential impact of Blockchain technology, autonomous vehicles, ‘intelligent airports’ and cargo IT all come under the microscope in this ‘IT and new technology’ themed issue.
Our final issue of 2017 also turns the spotlight on Osaka’s airports and contains a comprehensive round up of the recent ACI Africa/ACI World Assembly, Conference & Exhibition in Mauritius.
We also have features about airport hospitality; people matters; ATAG’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit; and ACI’s World Business Partners.
It was actually at the ATAG summit where I heard about the potential revolutionary new mode of transport, called Hyperloop, for the first time. The new transport system essentially involves pods capable of holding people, freight and cars being transported at super high speeds inside sealed tubes, that theoretically make it possible to travel hundreds of kilometre distances in minutes rather than hours.
And according to Hyperloop One, one of the companies developing the new technology, it could be operational as early 2023.
Does that sound like science fiction to you? Perhaps one day we really will be able to say, beam me up, Scotty!