$50m plan to use tech to improve airport operations

The taxi queue at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 on 23 December 2016.
The taxi queue at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 on 23 December 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Cameras and sensors have been installed at one of two taxi queueing areas at Changi Airport Terminal 3 to track the waiting times for cabs and the number of people in the queue.

This data will be collated and analysed over the next six to 12 months.

The aim is to share the data with taxi companies to study demand patterns, so as to ensure that there are enough cabs, as well as to potentially provide commuters with real-time information through their mobile phones on what to expect even before they join the taxi queue.

The initiative is one of several being explored as part of a new $50 million programme to harness technology and innovation to improve airport operations over the next five years.

The programme will involve the airport working with innovation- driven companies and start-ups to develop new technology solutions in a live airport environment.

Changi Airport Group and the Economic Development Board (EDB) sealed the cooperation by signing a memorandum of understanding at the airport yesterday.

Key technology areas being looked at include robotics, data analytics and consumer analytics.

For example, robots are in use in a trial to keep the airport clean and reduce the manpower needed in this area.

Also, consumer analytics can offer insights into travellers' habits and preferences, which will help Changi in its product offerings, thereby boosting sales revenues.

New security technologies may also be tested to enhance the passenger experience and reduce the stress of undergoing security clearance, while strengthening safety and security standards, said the airport.

Changi Airport Group chief executive officer Lee Seow Hiang said that building innovation today is critical to transforming the airport's future business and operations.

With annual passenger traffic of about 60 million and more than $2 billion in retail sales, the airport is an excellent test-bed for new ideas, he said.

As Changi continues to compete with other airports, the need to keep improving and innovating is relentless, he added.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said the joint project is aligned with the EDB's goal of fostering a vibrant ecosystem of technology providers that can drive innovation and create new businesses from Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline '$50m plan to use tech to improve airport operations'. Print Edition | Subscribe