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8 Steps to Implement Data Observability Tools for Your Airport

6 Jun 2024
Alwyn Joy

Airports today face the complex task of orchestrating numerous operations simultaneously — from managing a growing number of passengers to integrating new technologies and meeting elevated customer expectations. Each of these operations generates vast amounts of data every day, and data observability offers a smart solution keeping these numerous operations running smoothly.

Unlike traditional monitoring tools that focus on individual components, data observability tools ensure you can see, understand, and manage the entire system in real-time. This capability allows you to quickly detect, diagnose, and resolve issues, ensuring smooth and efficient operations.

Here are the steps to effectively integrate a data observability platform at your airport and make your data effectively handle both current and future demands.

1. Assess your current data management systems

The first step in implementing data observability at your airport is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the existing data infrastructure. This includes evaluating how data is collected, stored, and analysed across different airport operations.

Identify areas where data is difficult to access, unreliable, or lacks visibility. Recognising these gaps and performance issues will help you understand where improvements are needed and ensure that your efforts are focused and effective.

During the assessment, consider the following:

  • Examine how data is currently collected. Are there manual processes that could be automated? Are there inconsistencies in data collection methods?
  • Evaluate the efficiency and reliability of your data storage solutions. Are there any issues with data loss or corruption? Is the data easily accessible when needed?
  • Look at how data is analysed. Are the current tools and methods providing accurate and timely insights? Are there any bottlenecks in the data analysis process?
  • Check how well data from different systems is integrated. Are there silos of data that are not being shared across  departments? Is there a unified view of data available to stakeholders?
  • Assess the quality of the data. Are there errors or inconsistencies in the data? How often is the data validated and cleaned?

By examining these aspects, you can pinpoint specific areas that need improvement and ensure that your data observability efforts are targeted and effective.

2. Define the immediate goals of data observability

Once you’ve assessed your existing data management systems, the next step is to define what your airport aims to achieve with data observability. Objectives might include any number of things, such as:

  • Increasing baggage handling efficiency by tracking the location and movement of luggage
  • Improving check-in and boarding processes by integrating data from various systems to reduce wait times
  • Enhancing maintenance scheduling by monitoring equipment performance and predicting failures
  • optimizing gate assignment by analysing passenger flow and aircraft turnaround times
  • achieving broader integration across all airport operations

Each of these goals will guide the design and implementation of your observability tools, ensuring that efforts are focused on areas where significant improvements are needed.

3. Select your technology and tools

The data observability tool you choose directly impacts how effectively you can monitor and analyse data. Here are some features to look for when selecting a data observability tool:

  • Real-time monitoring and alerts: Tools should offer real-time data collection and customizable alerts to address issues proactively.
  • Comprehensive dashboard and visualization: Look for user-friendly and customizable dashboards to display relevant metrics and KPIs.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Choose scalable tools that integrate seamlessly with existing systems and can adapt to future technologies.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting: Ensure the tool provides predictive analytics and automated reporting capabilities.
  • Ease of use and support: Tools that are easy to use can reduce the training required for staff, speeding up the adoption process and minimising downtime
  • Integration with existing technology: Ensure the tool can effectively integrate with your existing tech stack to avoid data silos and inefficiencies.
  • Data security and privacy: Prioritise tools that emphasise data security and privacy, ensuring compliance with relevant global data protection regulations and protecting sensitive information.
  • Vendor support and documentation: Evaluate the customer experience and support the vendor provide, including product documentation and support channels.
  • Cost and value for money: Ensure transparent pricing and tools that provide clear ROI analysis.

Develop a strategy for integrating these tools into the existing IT infrastructure, planning the deployment in stages to avoid significant disruptions and enable smooth implementation.

4. Data collection and monitoring setup

The next step involves identifying the key data points that are critical to airport operations and need continuous monitoring. These may include passenger flow rates, luggage handling speeds, and the operational status of flights, and will depend on the goals you set in the second step. Choosing the right data points will help you gain deep insights that directly impact efficiency and service quality.

Once you’ve identified these key data points, set up monitoring systems that can track them effectively. These systems should alert staff in real-time to any anomalies or performance issues. Effective monitoring helps maintain smooth operations and enables  quick responses to potential issues, minimising disruptions and enhancing overall operational efficiency.

5. Conduct training and change management practices

Introducing new observability tools requires effective training and change management practices to ease the transition to new processes and technologies. These practices should aim to support staff through the change, addressing any concerns and ensuring they understand the benefits and workings of the new systems. Effective change management helps in gaining staff acceptance and buy-in, which are key to the successful adoption and optimal use of new data observability tools.

Organise comprehensive training sessions for IT staff and relevant airport personnel that cover not only the technical aspects of the tools but also the practical implications of their use in day-to-day airport operations.

6. Implement data observability practices

A prudent approach to deploying new data observability practices is to begin with a pilot phase. Starting small allows you to identify any potential issues or necessary adjustments in a controlled environment, minimising risk to overall operations.

Regularly evaluate the performance of the observability tools and practices during the pilot phase. This ongoing assessment helps ensure the tools are meeting your operational goals. Depending on the goals set, you might evaluate metrics such as baggage handling times, passenger wait times, system uptime, or incident response times. These evaluations also enable you to fine-tune the system, helping your airport adapt to any changes.

To conduct these evaluations effectively:

  • Define clear performance benchmarks based on your initial goals. For example, set target times for baggage handling or acceptable levels of system uptime.
  • Use the observability tools to collect data consistently throughout the pilot phase. Ensure that all relevant data points are being monitored accurately.
  • Regularly analyse the data trends to identify patterns or recurring issues. Look for any deviations from the expected performance benchmarks.
  • Gather feedback from staff using the tools to understand their experiences and any operational challenges they face.
  • Create regular reports summarising the data and insights gained from the evaluations. Use these reports to make informed decisions about adjustments needed.
  • Based on the findings, make necessary adjustments to the tools and processes. This might include tweaking alert settings, enhancing data collection methods, or providing additional staff training.

By following these steps, you can ensure that the pilot phase is thorough and provides valuable insights, allowing for a smooth and effective full-scale implementation.

7. Maintain and scale data observability

Schedule regular audits to ensure the long-term effectiveness of your data observability tools. These audits help verify that all tools are functioning as intended and remain aligned with your airport’s operational demands. Audits also help identify when updates  are needed to address new challenges and changes in airport operations. During audits, look for issues such as data discrepancies, system downtime, and performance bottlenecks.

As your airport grows, plan to expand data observability practices to new areas. This planning involves ensuring that your infrastructure can scale to handle increased data loads and operational complexity.

8. Establish review and feedback mechanisms

Beyond evaluating the performance of your tools, assess how data observability impacts airport operations. These reviews help determine how well the implementation has improved efficiency, safety, and passenger satisfaction. Understanding these effects enables you to measure the success of your observability efforts and pinpoint areas for further improvement.

In addition to regular reviews, set up strong feedback channels to collect input from users, including staff and passengers. This feedback is crucial for making informed decisions and refining observability practices to ensure they continue to meet your airport’s needs. Use methods such as surveys, interviews, and suggestion boxes to gather feedback. Ask targeted questions such as:

  • How has the data observability tool impacted your daily tasks?
  • Have you noticed any improvements in operational efficiency since its implementation?
  • Are there any issues or challenges you face when using the tool?
  • What features do you find most useful?
  • Do you have suggestions for further improvements?

Collecting and analysing this feedback will help you fine-tune your observability tools and practices, ensuring they continue to meet the evolving needs of your airport operations.

Implement data observability at your airport with Rezcomm

With Rezcomm’s data observability platform, you can enhance the quality of your data, improve system reliability, and increase customer satisfaction by providing real-time insights and predictive maintenance. Our tools provide clear, actionable insights through real-time operational dashboards and analytics dashboards, aiding in data-driven decision-making and quicker responses to operational needs.

Download our brochure, watch our video, or get in touch to implement data observability at your airport with Rezcomm.