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The presentation – entitled ‘Gatwick in the clouds’ – featured how Gatwick Airport’s new IT strategy is transforming the passenger experience and revolutionising airport operations while pushing new technologies to a limit no other airport reached before .
Innovation and embracing new technology was the theme for Day 2 of the Passenger Terminal Expo, which featured a technology and systems integration conference with an interesting presentation from Gatwick Airport’s CIO, Michael Ibbitson.
Ibbitson began by stating that technology is changing fast in line with the rest of world – but the aviation industry is not keeping up with this change and is actually lagging behind. To catch up with the rest of the tech world – Ibbitson said that he often talks to university students to see how they use technology and found that they dislike traditional platforms and prefer newer cloud based services like Drobpox among others.
Continuing, Ibbitson presented a range of innovative passenger services they use at Gatwick. Amongst these are web based Bagdrop, information tablets scattered throughout the terminal, and Google Streetview to find your way easily through the airport labyrinth. He then made the point that many of us use cloud based services like Google Docs, BBC iPlayer, and Netflix in our personal lives – so why don’t we adopt cloud based services in our professional lives? Gatwick for example uses Box – a cloud storage and collaboration service – as a common drive for file sharing offering unlimited storage (per user) with no extra management or service desk staff.
Even during unforeseen events such as the severe weather southern England has experienced this past winter, there is a way to be connected. After a late December storm inundated part of the runway and caused a major shutdown in passenger processing functions, Gatwick staff used their own devices, including smartphones, and Yammer, an enterprise social network, to try and control the chaos that followed.
Wrapping up, Ibbitson reiterated that since there’s no need to worry about servers, upgrading systems, and space allotment with cloud based services, airports can then focus on what they do best - improving operations and the passenger experience.
Finally, Ibbitson acknowledged that the next wave of airport technology like biometrics will help create a better connected passenger experience.