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Making air travel FAST and SWIFT
FROM the time they arrive at the terminal till their plane departs, passengers at Changi Airport will enjoy a seamless and convenient journey through the facility thanks to a host of advanced technologies; many of them operating in the background.
These technologies are part of Changi Airport Group's (CAG) Smart Airport Program, a suite of solutions that leverages sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence, and combines it with user-centric design to enhance the customer experience and improve productivity.
The initiative comprises four main projects - the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM), Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST), Service Workforce Instant Feedback Transformation (SWIFT) System and Arrival Flight Predictor.
The programme's benefits to travellers, airlines and even the environment are numerous. For instance, ACDM has slashed aircraft taxiing time by 120 seconds during peak hours, saving 5,000 kgs of airplane fuel and eliminating 15 tonnes of carbon emissions per day.
Meanwhile, FAST has helped Changi Airport's Terminal 4 to eliminate check-in queues and increase passenger check-in throughput by 30 per cent compared to traditional manual counter processes.
Meanwhile, SWIFT has enabled CAG to gather close to two million pieces of feedback a month, resulting in significant improvements in their response time and service to customers.
Finally, the Arrival Flight Predictor uses artificial intelligence to help accurately predict aircraft landing times more than two hours ahead, giving ample time for other stakeholders to better plan and deploy their resources.
"We were able to couple technology with business innovation to create a first-of-its-kind innovation that is not available off-the-shelf. The Smart Airport programme has enabled us to continue to provide a high level of customer service that Changi has come to be known for, even as business complexity and air traffic volumes have increased," said Steve Lee, group senior vice-president, technology / chief information officer, CAG.
He explains that the programme is particularly challenging due to the high complexity, scale, and number of stakeholders involved. It takes more than 50,000 staff from over 200 different agencies to serve the 180,000 passengers that travel through Changi Airport every day.
The Smart Airport Program helps with this process by enabling different agencies to use technology and process integration to improve the overall outcome for stakeholders, said Mr Lee. ACDM, for example, allows the airport to harmonise the operating processes for air traffic controllers, the airport operator, airlines and ground handlers to achieve improvements.
To launch such a complex system, the Smart Airport Program had to undergo many experiments and trials that allowed CAG to improve even as it developed capabilities. For example, facial biometric trials started more than four years ago, enabling the group to get 2,000 international and local passengers to test the efficacy of facial biometrics for passenger processing in that period.
Over the past few years, CAG has also been able to collaborate with its airport partners to test digital interface and physical designs, leading to the final version of facial recognition capabilities as they are deployed in T4 today. Added Mr Lee: "T4 is in itself a 'live' experiment for the coming Terminal 5!"
As the Smart Airport Program covers innovations across the entire "value chain" of airport operations, all passengers have benefitted from its various components, such as shorter queueing and processing time. Moving forward, even more passengers will be able to experience the benefits when the programme expands to cover more terminals and activities. For instance, FAST will be scaled up in Terminals 1, 2 and 3, enabling more passengers to opt for early check-in ahead of the usual opening hours of the traditional check-in counters.
"CAG will also continue to seek opportunities to innovate to improve current systems and processes, with the end aim of bringing about an enhanced passenger journey as well as productivity savings for our airport partners," said Mr Lee. The group will also continue to expand and extend the coverage of the programme to include more other initiatives in areas such as retail, baggage, ground transport options.
To gather more data points to improve current processes, CAG is looking at collaborating further with other agencies and partners. Among other initiatives, it plans to use sensors and data analytics to better understand arrival flows. This will enable airport agencies to predict the demand for arrival services such as immigration clearance and ground transport resources. It is also working with airport stakeholders on the next upgrade of biometric services, building on what has already been achieved at Terminal 4.
On winning the SG:D Techblazer award in the "Best Adoption - Private Sector" category, Mr Lee said that it is a strong endorsement that CAG is on the right track in its digital transformation journey.
He said: "We are committed to continue driving our digital transformation journey together with our stakeholders to achieve excellence in customer service, business performance and productivity. Winning the award also helps us reach out to like-minded potential partners and talent who may want to join us on this exciting journey to revolutionise travel over the next decade."