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Changi Airport to work with firms, startups to improve operations

Its 5-year innovation programme to zoom in on areas such as automation, data analytics

The airport is working with firms to conduct trials for a queue analytics system at its taxi stands. This will offer travellers better information on ground transport options and inform cab drivers about demand for taxis.


CHANGI Airport is reaching out to companies and startups to develop technology solutions for the airport under a five-year innovation programme, zooming in on areas such as automation and data analytics.

The "Living Lab" programme, a tie-up between the Singapore Economic Development Board and Changi Airport Group, will see investments of up to S$50 million over the next five years. The lab will also work with accelerators, universities and research institutes from Singapore and overseas.

Aside from automation, data analytics and the Internet of Things, other areas of focus will include non-intrusive security technologies as well as smart infrastructure management.

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For instance, the airport is already working with companies to conduct trials for a queue analytics system at its taxi stands. This will allow the airport to provide travellers with better information on ground transport options during peak periods as well as inform taxi drivers about anticipated demand for taxis at the airport. Data for the taxi trial is being collated over a six to 12-month period.

Another ongoing project involves prototype trials for autonomous cleaning robots to clean the floors in the airport terminals.

Meanwhile, it is exploring the use of automated guided vehicles to take passengers between terminals.

Speaking at a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing on Thursday, chief executive officer of airport operator CAG, Lee Seow Hiang, highlighted that factors such as an increasingly vibrant eco-system of startups as well as the availability of improved technology make it possible for the airport to up its game when it comes to innovation.

EDB's chairman, Beh Swan Gin, added: "This project is significant because it will provide valuable opportunities for companies from across different industries to co-develop and test innovative airport solutions in a real life operating environment."

To cope with growing passenger traffic, the airport will open Terminal 4 in the second half of this year, adding a capacity of 16 million annually to Changi's existing capacity of 66 million passengers. Against the backdrop of a tight labour market, T4 will offer self-service options as well as a centralised security screening to operate more efficiently and with reduced dependence on manpower.

"(The Living Lab) is an initiative. . .to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore's air hub as an airport that's fast growing and also expanding in the next 10, 15 years," added CAG managing director (airport operations management) Jayson Goh. "Innovation is a key avenue to help us build up new capabilities, enhance passenger experience, enhance efficiency as well as optimise infrastructure capacity, moving forward."

Changi Airport handled a record 55.4 million passengers in 2015. For the first 11 months of this year, passenger traffic grew 5.7 per cent to 53 million putting the airport on track to post year-on-year growth.