We would all like to have a crystal ball. Knowing what the future will bring offers enormous added value, because we can then anticipate the challenges coming our way. At Brussels Airport we do have such a crystal ball, although we know it better under a different name: data.
These days you find data everywhere, and everyone has to do with it. Do you use Facebook? Then your personal details are kept in the form of data. Facebook uses them to adapt advertisements to match your interests, or even make friendship proposals. Do you have a customer card at a supermarket? Then the promotions that you get to see will be tailored to your purchasing behaviour. One can extract data from everywhere, and all of these data can be analysed. Also at Brussels Airport.
Forecasting the future
At Brussels Airport we’ve collected a great deal of data in recent years. So we know the busier and less busy moments at the airport, we know how long it takes for a passenger to go through screening, and so on. We also gather present-time data, e.g. on the current weather conditions or how many passengers are at a specific place at a given moment. With our Airport Operations Plan (AOP) we are bringing all of this information together in a computer model. By means of algorithms we can then make forecasts for the (near) future. For example: instead of waiting until we see the queues at the airport grow on the camera images, we will soon be able to intervene two hours in advance in order to prevent those queues from developing in the first place. Convenient for the passengers and, at the same time, we avoid unpleasant working conditions for security and Border control agents. So in the future we’ll become even more proactive and solve problems before they even occur. Pretty useful, wouldn’t you say?