by Andrea Benito

Q&A: Automation, AI optimize workflow and travel safety at TAV Airports

Mar 06, 2021
Artificial IntelligenceBig DataCloud Computing

M. Kerem u00d6ztu00fcrk and Hakan u00d6ker, executives at Turkey-based TAV Airports, explain how emerging tech including big data, AI and automation have helped ensure passenger safety during the pandemic, while optimizing business processes.

tav airports
Credit: TAV Airports

TAV Airports is a Turkey-based airport operations and services firm that is part of Groupe ADP. It’s one of the world’s largest airport operators, serving more than 100 airports across 30 countries. In this Q&A, M. Kerem Öztürk, TAV Technologies general manager, and Hakan Öker, chief human resources officer at TAV Airports Holding, detail how AI, automation and big data have played a part in ensuring passenger safety and optimizing workflow at airports — and why they decided to move their ERP systems to the cloud in the middle of the pandemic.

How has TAV Airport incorporated innovation?

Hakan Öker: TAV has placed innovation at the heart of its business model since its establishment back in 1997. Solely focusing on airport design, finance and management, the company strives to find innovative solutions to create the highest value for its stakeholders. The unique business model of TAV foresees an integrated approach to airport operations, providing services at each and every step of the passenger journey through its subsidiaries. This approach creates a rich data set, robust decision making and vast opportunities for collaboration. Therefore, we’re able to innovate, find efficient solutions and easily adapt to the needs and expectations of our passengers and customers.

In what ways is TAV Airport creating the future of airports?

 Hakan Öker: TAV is able to create customized, turn-key solutions for individual airport projects. Airports are strategic and long-term investments. We have extensive know-how and a successful track record in airport project finance and operations. Today TAV operates 15 airports in 8 countries and provides services at another 86 airports through its subsidiaries. Drawing on this know-how, we have established an R&D center, the TAV Innovation Center, in our HQ. The future of airports relies on smart applications for passengers that enable autonomy, diversity and comfort without compromising on security, and reliable, efficient processes for operators that would enable them to compete in an ever-competitive environment. As part of Groupe ADP, the largest airport management platform globally, we believe that we’re in a unique position to create and implement the next generation solutions at airports.

Due to the coronavirus, the travel world is different, people are more conscious about social distancing and not touching surfaces. What role is technology playing to make travel smoother, faster, and more efficient?

Kerem Öztürk: Ensuring safety and health regulations at the airports for all passenger processes will be key to reassure passengers to travel again. It is more important than ever that airports, airlines, and their partners take steady steps and commit to deliver a contactless, queueless, and fully sanitized end-to-end travel experience that is as automated as possible. Some radical new approaches and collaboration between all parties are essential to achieve this vision and support the survival of the air transport industry.

The concept of seamless travel experience is not a vision for airports around the world but a need for ensuring the flow of passengers through terminal building uninterrupted, safely and without any delay or queuing.

For instance, TAV Technologies Passenger Flow Management Platform helps airports to identify pressure points within a terminal and these points are managed and optimized, helping airports to avoid the queues that the passengers are scared of. It allows operators to take quick actions on issues such as hygiene and social distance rules that are inevitable for today’s world. The platform offers queue management technology enhanced with necessary prevention capabilities.

Self-service technologies deployed at vital touchpoints throughout the passenger journey will help greatly optimizing the passenger flow. TAV Technologies Travel Document Authorization System (TDAS) is a complete solution that is integrated with biometric technologies, helping airports to create a seamless passenger experience. It plays a vital role in the recovery of the COVID pandemic for the aviation sector due to its advanced touchless features. This solution will help to avoid contact between passengers, airport personnel and equipment while removing the need to handle identity documents and boarding passes.

Contactless passenger experience cannot be complete without the digitalization of retail and food & beverage areas. TAV Technologies Smart Gate Order Platform will transform the shopping process. The passengers can take advantage of this platform at every step of their journey. They can order their shopping items before coming to the airport by their mobile and pick up their order from any designated area or their gates. This solution improves the passenger experience and enhances the airport’s non-aeronautical revenues at the same time.

How do you use AI in the airports where TAV operates?

Kerem Öztürk: After the COVID-19 pandemic use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) at airports have increased. We have implemented AI (Computer Vision technologies) for measuring passenger queue and flow in passenger processing points using real-time camera images to reduce crowding, facilitate social distancing and shorten the queues. Besides, the data supports us to make future estimations to increase resource productivity and enhance passenger experience.

What role does big data play for TAV Airports?

 Kerem Öztürk: Airports are producing vast amounts of data from variety of data sources available through the daily operations. We are using this data for three main objectives: One: Increasing Efficiency by measuring & analysing KPIs real-time; providing historical data for decision makers and making future estimations. Two: Improving Customer Experience by providing real-time information to passengers and personalizing the experience. Three: Reducing the Costs by increasing the resources’ productivity and predictive maintenance.

We are collecting real-time or near real-time raw data from variety of data sources such as AODB (Airport Operational Database), QMS (Queue management System) and using event stream processing application. The event stream processing application connects to the data sources, streams data and sends to a real-time dashboard application. Additionally, this data is being sent to a data warehouse which is on-premise for the future usage.

Could you explain us more about your projects with Oracle? Why did you decide to use Oracle HCM Cloud Applications? And how is Oracle helping TAV Airports?

Kerem Öztürk: We see Oracle as one of our enabler strategic partners for TAV Group’s digital transformation. Moving to Oracle HCM (Human Capital Management) Cloud was a tough decision during the Covid-19 crisis, but we have decided to turn the situation into an opportunity by investing in our technology and employees. Our goal was to put everything in order by streamlining each of the HR functions while enabling one source of truth for HR data to improve our decision-making.

We chose Oracle HCM Cloud because it is the one complete and future proof solution for all the HR functions. It is a comprehensive application that we had the integration capability in a single platform within a single data model not only with our existing Oracle On Premise but also other expansion modules of our digital transformation initiative which turned to an advantage. Oracle’s investments in cloud and new generation technologies also convinced us to be able to use tomorrow’s technologies today, such as digital assistants, artificial intelligence, etc.

We have a busy roadmap with Oracle that includes implementation of core HR & Absence management modules for our group companies. Within a year and a half, we plan to complete HCM modules’ implementation covering Compensation, Performance & Goal Management, Learning, Recruitment, career development and succession-planning, Expense management and EPM.

What are the current cybersecurity threats to airport operators as a result of COVID?

Kerem Öztürk: The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has increased the cyber vulnerabilities, especially in the aviation sector. In this new era, a New Security Culture maintaining safe, secure, and resilient operations is a top priority for aviation.

Current cyber threats can be listed as disruption of airport systems and operations; disabling and blocking access into airlines’ and airports’ sites and web applications; Airlines’ and Airports’ systems encryption by ransomware; intervention of aircraft control systems; compromising of security control systems and access to restricted area; compromising of data centres; security breach of the baggage handling systems; lack of employee awareness in terms of cyber security; complexity of regulations and challenges in implementation and many others.

As TAV Technologies, we have taken the following security measures against cyber threats in the aviation industry. Periodic risk assessments and development of risk treatment plans; logging in and monitoring of the critical services against cyber threats, analysing the cyber threats and their potential vulnerabilities that may arise from closed incidents; real time tracking of the cyber security KPIs; annual vulnerability scans for the critical services and sites; annual penetration tests; internal & external audits.