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CHAPTER 1 Vision for a Fully Integrated Airport Introduction This Handbook was developed as a result of Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Project 01-03. The research project had the following objectives: 1. Assess the current state of the industry in relation to managing appropriate data from business- related financial and operational activity; 2. Develop guidelines and current best practices to fully integrate such data and the business- critical information that they indicate; 3. Develop functional specifications for procuring open-architecture systems for integrating the data; and 4. Describe a vision of an airport with fully integrated business, operational, and financial infor- mation systems. To meet these objectives, this Handbook has been designed to lay the foundation, chapter by chapter, for developing an airport manager's computer desktop dashboard, from which to access the information from their integrated airport systems. As the reader moves through each chap- ter, it is possible to shape a dashboard for the future that is appropriate to the specific airport operation. This Handbook does not provide the dashboard itself, but rather its building blocks. This chapter describes the vision for a fully integrated airport and provides an overview of the Handbook's organization. Vision Managing the complexities of an airport requires numerous daily business decisions, finan- cial and operational, as well as proactive business planning and problem-solving or problem pre- vention. To make these decisions, senior managers need accurate, timely information. On any given day, a manager might want to know the airport's current financial picture as indicated by annual cost per enplanement, percentage of non-airline revenue generated, or budget-to-actual operating costs. Management might also need to know what operational issues are affecting the budget and what processes are generating the highest number of customer complaints. In ana- lyzing the issues, senior managers might like to know what the potential return on investment might be for alternative proposals or whether proposed new facilities would affect the competi- tiveness of the airport by raising the average cost per enplanement or perhaps by changing the gate usage for only one airline. Complex decision-making, such as whether or not to finance a new gate expansion, would be easier if the costs to construct and the costs of operating and maintaining the expansion, along 4
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Vision for a Fully Integrated Airport 5 with the effect on the airlines' rates and charges in the first year of operation, could be quickly accessed for review. If senior management could also look at and add to their evaluation the trends of various airline passenger counts over the past year and then calculate the effect of a sig- nificant reduction in passengers on gate usage demands, then the decision might be clearer. If the customer service complaints trend analysis indicated that additional gate capacity would solve one of the top areas of complaint, and this information was paired with all of the above metrics presented on the desktop dashboards of senior management, decision-making would be faster and more likely to result in sound business decisions. If an airport could generate the information and integrate it as necessary to bill airlines for landing fees and other variable charges immediately at the end of the month, rather than waiting 30 days for airline-reported data, amounts due the airport would be received in days, instead of weeks from month's end. Such a result could put an airport in a far better position during airline industry upheavals. The information necessary to answer these questions might well be available in one or more functional areas of the airport and in one or more disparate systems. In the ideal situation, sen- ior management could access the information each manager desired from the computer desk- top, mobile phone, or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). In this best of worlds, the key data needed for the business-critical information would be seamlessly integrated or transferred from each airport information system and the metrics that a particular manager has identified as nec- essary to provide the best picture of that airport would be automatically calculated. The ability to review the chosen metrics as desired would be coupled with the ability to drill down to the level of detail required to assess the effect of business decisions before they are made. Ideally then, this technology would provide immediate access to the metrics data, as well as insight into the business rules behind the metrics. This Handbook is designed to help bring this idealized vision to life for different CEOs. One CEO may require the intensive assessment of the details that con- stitute each section of data. Another CEO may only be concerned with the effect on business decisions. Others may want to assess the context of the data, seeing where it comes from, how it is calculated, and who is responsible. This Handbook is meant to address these situations so that the manager's dashboard is flexible and customizable. Information systems in airports contain data that crosses functional areas; the data might be collected in various divisions, used by several different divisions, and only available to senior management in bits and pieces. Today, information data can reside in legacy systems, which are difficult to integrate, in systems that are kept manually, or in software systems that are propri- etary. Regardless, the ability to integrate the data for decision-making is growing with each improvement in information strategies and technologies. The integrated airport of the future will use technology to bring information from separate systems together to provide a single, cohesive view of the data. Although the long-range vision for airports is to achieve full integration of all essential data, or as much as an individual airport finds useful, through information technology, ultimately, the role of information technology in airports will evolve as the technology itself evolves and changes. Like most businesses, the pace of change in an airport depends on financial resources, the actual benefits to the business, and the ability of the airport to take advantage of the technol- ogy changes cost-effectively. However, planning and preparing for such changes by developing the vision for the airport, ensuring that each new information technology (IT) project moves the airport toward the vision, developing specifications for IT projects that enhance the ability to integrate existing data systems, and demanding that the technologies and strategies employed be flexible and have an open architecture, can only help in reaching the long-range vision for integration.