Enjoy our faster App experience

Airlines look to the promise of the 'Internet of Things'

The 'Internet of Things' is when physical objects are connected to the internet, which enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control.

By Staff Report

Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015, 10:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:46 PM

Brussels: A major revolution in the passenger experience is set to emerge over the next three years as airlines invest in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).

According to the Sita 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey, the vast majority of airlines (86 per cent) expect that the IoT will deliver clear benefits in the next three years, and already more than one third (37 per cent) have allocated a budget to it. The results of the survey show that IoT investments will be focused in the areas of check-in, bag drop and bag collection.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is when physical objects are connected to the internet, which enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control. As part of this revolution, more things in the airport are being connected up including buildings, equipment, bags, trolleys, tugs – basically all the ‘things’ that could emit a status. In reality, however, because today the vast majority (83 per cent) of passengers carry smartphones, passengers and staff are connected and can be part of the IoT too.

Sita’s survey carried out among the world’s top 200 airlines shows that airlines are already considering the benefits of IoT and over the next three years more than half plan investments in this area. By 2018, 16 per cent plan major programs and a further 41 per cent plan to invest in research and development.

Jim Peters, chief technology officer, Sita, said: “Our whole world is becoming more and more connected and airlines recognise that investment will be needed to harness the benefits of IoT efficiently. This year airlines are beefing up their investments in both business intelligence and data centers, which are key foundations required for the IoT. Sita is already working across the community, with airlines, airports and other stakeholders, to see how to make the IoT effective across every point of the business and passenger journey.”

One of the first manifestations of the IoT in the air transport industry is the use of beacons. This will be the first area that airlines will see the benefits of sensors and the ability to match location with other information. Today just nine per cent of airlines are using or trialing beacons but this is set to rise rapidly to 44 per cent by 2018.

Bag services are the steps of the journey where beacons will be most used by then – 44 per cent of airlines are planning to use them at bag drop and 43 per cent at bag claim. These are the key pain points in the passenger journey over which the airlines have direct control and it is encouraging for passengers to see the airlines investing in new technologies at these steps.


More news from Aviation