Opening up the airport infrastructure

5 augustus 2019

Recently, the Airport Technology Lab (ATL) started at Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA). The project aims to create an open airport infrastructure where new ideas, tools and concepts can be tested and developed. As Adecs, we are a proud partner. It enables us to realise our vision on future airport products.

ATL is a partnership between Rotterdam the Hague Airport, the city of Rotterdam, several (vocational) schools, Delft University of Technology and six small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The project is financially supported by contributions of the city councils of Rotterdam and The Hague, the province of South Holland, RTHA, the European Union, and the in-kind contribution of the six participating enterprises.

New ideas implemented directly into Rotterdam The Hague Airport

The project allows the students to collaborate with start-ups and SME’s in an actual airport setting, so they can test new ideas and concepts immediately. As key enabler in this project, Adecs will ‘open up’ our Airlink Airport Operational Management System at Rotterdam The Hague Airport. Basically, we will implement API’s, webhooks and plug-in facilities throughout our complete system and make it available for third parties to use. Or simply said, all project partners will be able to use the platform to access data and the available functionality but also extend on their own for their own purposes!

With the new open platform, it becomes much easier to create (restricted) access to live operational data and functionality from the airport information system. This access can be made easily available to the participating schools, universities, start-ups and other businesses, so that they have a low-cost, low-risk and live environment to develop and test new tools.

This will fuel new ideas, cut time to market for new products and services but also provide a proving ground to ensure rapid market introduction. It all supports the overall goal of accelerating innovation.

Airport benefits

The world around airports is changing rapidly and the industry is facing major challenges such as climate change, congestion and changing passenger expectations. Technology may help airports to overcome these challenges, unfortunately airports have struggled in the past to keep up.

We are convinced that an open airport solution will help to speed up the introduction of new technology at airports. Industry standard interfacing technology will make it much easier to integrate third party solutions. But more importantly, it will open up the market for new companies with refreshing ideas or existing products proven in other markets.

The open platform will also enable local suppliers with specific knowledge and expertise to contribute. The Airport Technology Lab is therefore an important step for Rotterdam The Hague Airport in adding value to the region but it can offer similar opportunities at other airports. It provides opportunities for local businesses and start-ups, as well as a practical learning environment for universities and students.

Our motivation

Our “open” approach is not seen before in the monolithic, and therefore vendor locked-in, world of regional airport information systems. To be honest, it felt ‘a bit off’ to open up our systems. Due to the monolithic closed structure of airport information systems for regional airports, airports are obliged to buy solutions and services from the vendor of the system. So opening up your infrastructure to others seems contradictory, as you give up these so-called vendor lock-in advantages. However, we feel that we will benefit of the open platform, because we now can:

  • Keep focus on our core business
  • Offer high quality solutions by partnering with domain experts
  • Maintain the ability to react fast on developments in airport industry

We consider this as crucial for the continuous growth of our company, but also as the natural next step in the continuing development of our AirLink system.

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