The savvy digital traveler
For millions of travelers, the experience of moving through busy airports can be trying, especially if information is scarce. Having direct access to up-to-the minute flight information, knowing how long it will take get through security and mapping out the best route to make a connecting flight can make the experience a little less painful.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which oversees Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, delivered most of that information to its visitors for years, but it was scattered across nine different websites and platforms.
Starting in 2015, the MWAA set out to change all of that with the creation of a system it called the Travel Information & Revenue Enhancement Platform (TIREP), which would serve as a central hub for all relevant information related to the airport travel experience. TIREP is designed to centralize all media content and data coming from multiple sources, including the Transportation Security Administration, baggage handling systems and the airlines, and make it available to travelers on a variety of personal devices and public display systems.
"The information passengers were asking for was not built in one single application or owned by the airport -- it's an ecosystem of information that resides and is owned by multiple partners in the travel journey chain," says Goutam Kundu, CIO of the MWAA. "With TIREP, we set out to bring out data in an API format so it could easily be consumed in whatever device the passenger wants."
The TIREP digital platform is enabled by three core technology pillars: A data management and open API foundation, a responsive website that's device-agnostic, and a beefed-up connectivity infrastructure that combines Wi-Fi and LTE, among other technologies, to ensure robust network coverage across the 6 million square feet of combined airport real estate. The latter component is key. As Kundu points out, "You might have the best apps, but without good network connectivity to the internet, they are meaningless."
As opposed to tackling the problem in a piecemeal approach, the MWAA saw an opportunity to build a digital platform in concert with an information-centric design and a standardized set of processes that could be leveraged to power TIREP and any subsequent enhancements and future systems. For example, a digital signage pilot has the TIREP data structure and taxonomy in place, which allows for more adaptability. Moreover, consistency of customer experience has improved because all of the information pushed out to digital channels now shares a single data foundation.
To make that possible, TIREP calls for data to be federated and shared through a standardized content and media library that can publish to different channels with minimal effort. Stakeholders collaborated to identify data sources, establish a structured format and develop a taxonomy and metadata, Kundu says. As part of the design, the platform supports reusable centralized privacy, security, personalization, data extraction and cleansing, and content management services, which ensures that the MWAA can respond quickly with future apps and capabilities as travel requirements evolve.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.