How airports can use Agile Data Engine to improve passenger experience

Apr 26, 2024 9:37:10 AM


When you think of an airport, do you think of a joyful place for anticipation and excitement for an upcoming trip or pleasant homecoming after a lovely holiday? Do you think of an experience, with unique shopping opportunities, top notch eateries, and engaging free play areas for young families? That’s what Finland’s main hub, Helsinki Airport - run by Finavia - is. Traveling through Helsinki, or HEL as it’s abbreviated, is always a pleasant and efficient airport experience – even given the advanced “snowhow” crucial for making sure travellers can remain safe while enjoying their travels, since Nordic winter weather can be decidedly unpleasant, not to mention uncooperative for airline staff trying to drive – and fly – massive commuter vehicles through.  

an airplane at the jetway ready to take passengers to their destinations 

But if you’re wondering just why HEL is so efficient, you’re asking the wrong question. The better question is, how does Finavia create this exceptional travel experience? Luckily, we can answer it! They’ve done so by partnering with Agile Data Engine to better merge the data streams in their cloud data warehouse whilst minimizing lag times and providing transparency into the “black box” of their DataOps function. 


Embracing the Cloud while avoiding the fog

It's no secret that the Nordics are way ahead  when it comes to digitalisation. This is because there was an early push for technological innovation and increased efficiency so regions north of the Baltic – an area known for its harsh and unforgiving natural environment – could remain economically competitive as global economic growth shifted away from physical manufacturing. This means Finavia’s case can offer an excellent blueprint for other airport operators as they initiate their journey into a cloud data transformation – as you will face myriad challenges and opportunities and can learn from their success: Finavia adopted a modern cloud data warehouse architecture early on, and was therefore able to transform a messy data deluge into a serious knowledge advantage.  

We’re now a quarter of the way into the first fully-digitised century, so cloud data warehouse transformations are becoming absolutely essential for airport operators, rather than a mere “nice-to-have.” When you embark on a cloud data warehouse transformation, you’ll need to focus on enhancing operational efficiency, improving passenger experience, and ensuring safety for travellers and airport staff alike… all of which hinge on effectively managing and leveraging vast amounts of data. This blog post delves into the complexities of this digital shift, and highlights how your airport can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), people movement data, and real-time weather monitoring to redefine the airport experience. 


The Data Deluge: Cloud transformations shouldn't rain on your parade

Airports were not designed to be the complex ecosystems that they are today. With growing travel volume and demand, they now face myriad challenges brought on by this exciting growth. Luckily, just because they now generate and consume vast quantities of data doesn’t mean they need to become slow, inconvenient places putting a damper on all the joy and excitement travel should conjure. Luckily, Agile Data Engine was there to help Finavia marry flight operations, passenger processing, baggage handling, retail operations, and more.


This enables Finavia to understand every aspect of their airport management – because the data is accessible, streamlined into a cloud-based data warehouse. This repository of IoT sensors and further process automation can help airports seize the opportunity that Big Data offers, and use that information to make dramatic improvements to passenger experience. These lessons from Finavia will help you get ahead of the many challenges airports need to confront as they embark on cloud data transformation journeys… and as a result, offer your passengers first-class send-offs as they embark on their own. 

Data Integration and Silos 

One of the primary hurdles airports face is the integration of disparate data systems. Airports historically operate on legacy systems where information is siloed across different departments. Migrating to a cloud-based infrastructure requires not only technological upgrades but also a shift in organizational culture towards data sharing and interoperability. It should also allow your DataOps process to shift away from subpar personnel praxis, such as hiring data teams for tooling.  

Data Security and Privacy 

Airport operations amplify the importance of sensitivity to data security and privacy. Migrating to the cloud poses potential risks, including data breaches and unauthorized access. Ensuring compliance with international data protection regulations (like GDPR) is paramount… as is avoiding vendor lock-in in case of changing policies or data partner compliance models. 

Scalability and Management 

Airport operations are dynamic by necessity, at the mercy of volatile weather as our planet warms and even geopolitical situations far across the globe. This demands a scalable cloud solution that can adapt to fluctuating data volumes and real-time processing needs.


Managing scalable infrastructure requires expertise in cloud technologies, which may necessitate significant training or hiring efforts. Luckily ADE makes scaling your DataOps team easier than ever by minimizing the hassle of onboarding and offboarding consultants. 


Sunshine after the Rain: Opportunities Through Cloud Data Transformation 

Despite the aforementioned challenges, the transition to a cloud-based EDW will open unprecedented opportunities for airports. For example, leveraging IoT for functions such as people movement data and real-time tarmac weather condition monitoring down to the metre can ensure safety and efficiency.


This is an especially valuable use case any airport operator using Agile Data Engine could utilise – as long as you can actually understand the data you have. 




Fewer delays and inconveniences with real-time data processing

Airports require real-time data processing capabilities that can respond swiftly to operational changes. This includes everything from flight delays, to freak weather events, to medical emergencies, to security issues.

Achieving real-time analytics in a cloud environment requires robust data pipelines and processing frameworks… which would often require a team of the most senior data scientists that take months to get on the same page, working as a cohesive team. But that doesn’t need to be the case.  


Using the Internet of Things (IoT) 

IoT technology enables a network of devices to communicate and exchange data, offering real-time insights into various aspects of airport operations. For instance, IoT-enabled baggage handling systems can track luggage throughout the airport, reducing lost items and improving passenger satisfaction.

Similarly, IoT sensors can monitor equipment health, predict maintenance needs, and prevent operational disruptions. Perhaps most importantly, they can also monitor and predict weather as it happens, ensuring that flights can safely depart and arrive and that walkways, carparks, and drop-off/pickup zones are safe for pedestrians and vehicles alike.  


Defrost your snowhow stack with real-time tarmac weather data 

Weather conditions obviously have a profound impact on airport operations. Real-time weather condition monitoring systems must integrate data from various sources, such as various runway sensors, and providing accurate and timely weather information is crucial to maintaining safe and efficient travel.


Along with other data sources and Agile Data Engine, this enables better decision-making for flight scheduling, routing, and ground operations, as well as minimising weather-related delays and ensuring passenger safety... as well as understanding how weather affects people movement in and around the airport. Of course, people movement data is also useful in plenty of other ways. 


Know who’s going where: People movement data 

Analysing people movement data through cloud-based analytics can significantly enhance the passenger experience and operational efficiency within an airport.


This data, collected from sensors, mobile devices, and ticketing systems can inform crowd management strategies, optimise staffing levels, and reduce wait times at security and check-in counters. It can also inform commercial strategies, so you can tailor retail and dining options to passenger flow patterns. 


Clear skies ahead: Navigating the Transformation 

To successfully navigate the cloud data transformation, airports must adopt a strategic approach that addresses both the technical and organizational challenges. This includes: 


  • Fostering a Data-driven Culture: Encouraging collaboration and data sharing across departments to break down silos and leverage collective intelligence; 
  • Building Technical Expertise: Training existing staff or hiring new talent with expertise in cloud data warehouse transformations, data science, and data analytics; 
  • Partnering with Technology Providers: Collaborating with cloud service providers, cyber sec, and technology firms specialised in aviation solutions as well as data warehousing, so you can actually use the information you have to make smart business and operational decisions.  



The journey towards cloud data transformation for airports isn’t a place to get caught up on inconveniences. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to revolutionize your airport and create travel memories that make people smile. Effective data modelling best practices along with a robust DataOps function that leverages IoT, people movement data, and real-time weather monitoring enhances efficiency, improves passenger experiences, and ensures traveler and staff safety.

Deftly navigating your digital transformation ensures you’re not just upgrading your technological infrastructure but are also setting new standards for the future of aviation and world-class travel experiences – by delivering joy to your customers. 


Do you manage data for an airport operator and want more resilience and transparency in your cloud data warehouse? Book a time to learn what Agile Data Engine can do for your DataOps stack: