The Importance of API Integration in Optimizing the Passenger Experience
If you work in technology, you’ve probably heard or used the term API as much as you’ve said ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. APIs are ubiquitous, and it’s as simple as picking up your phone to see them in action. Whether you’re logging-in with Facebook, booking a flight, or searching for the weather, it’s all powered by APIs. Although you might not know it because a lot is going on behind the scenes, APIs are integral to our daily digital lives and they are becoming more and more important to what you do.
For the individuals that don’t work directly with APIs, you may be thinking, that’s great and all but what exactly is it? According to Wikipedia, an API or “application programming interface,” is “...A set of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software. In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components.”
In laymen’s terms, an API is the messenger that delivers your request to a provider and then delivers the response back to you. Think about it like this, you’re at Starbucks and you want an iced latte, you can’t just ask the barista directly to make one for you, you first have to order it from the cashier who then relays your order to the barista. The cashier is the API, and the drink is then delivered to you (like a request). An API allows many different solutions to exchange information using set standards. In our work and personal lives, we use many different platforms every day so it’s extremely important to be able to streamline the process and make things more cohesive; integration is crucial.
APIs in the Airport Environment
Airports require many different systems to manage an array of operations; whether it be passenger processing, arrival/departure operations, baggage handling, or air traffic control (just to name a few). The number of systems in some airports is upwards of 2,000 – now that’s a lot to manage. Someone could write a book on all of the different integration possibilities but for the purpose of this blog, we’re going to focus on API integrations as it relates to optimizing the passenger experience.
Let’s begin with signage – signs play a very vital role in the airport environment and can be used to display many different pieces of important information such as; wayfinding, flight information, and security checkpoint wait-times. Digital signage allows the displays to be dynamic and gives the operator the freedom to change the messaging on the fly.
When it comes to the security checkpoint, it is a main source of anxiety for many passengers and is also a significant operational challenge for many airports. For the travelers that don’t fly often, many of them find the security process overwhelming and inevitably slow the movement of the line because they don’t understand what items they need show the document checker and what they need to remove for the metal detector. Displaying the wait-time on digital displays puts the passenger at ease and gives them peace of mind. A long line does not always necessarily mean a long wait and without that information, the passenger is left in the dark. Displaying information about the security checkpoints also allows for load balancing – giving the passenger the ability to go to another screening area with a shorter wait time and line.
As the leading provider of queue management solutions, Xovis offers access to raw sensor data through a full featuring API and provides an easy way to integrate Xovis sensors into third-party applications such as digital signage. Having the ability to integrate FIDS information along with wait-time data into your digital signage is another important data point and can be accomplished through an API integration.
We live in a world where we are all constantly glued to our smart devices and we all want information at our fingertips immediately. When it comes to planning for travel, airports that offer a mobile app can give the passenger access to information that will help them plan effectively thus reducing anxiety and improving their overall satisfaction. Airport apps can offer information such as flight data, parking availability, what amenities are available, and the security wait-times.
Pictures above: Many airports have opted to create their own app to arm passengers with all the information they need to plan for their travel.
Data Integration Post-Covid-19
As we continue to talk about what travel will look like post-Covid-19, it’s easy to imagine a world that is almost entirely touch-free and integrated. Systems that have never communicated together before will need to work with each other seamlessly in order to provide a safe and efficient experience. Thermal imaging, temperature readings, on the spot virus testing, facial recognition, this is just a sampling of the different technologies and processes that are being discussed.
Thermal image monitoring at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand.
Many questions are being asked lately, such as “Does my current technology have additional use cases that can help with post pandemic operations? “Can the technology integrate with X?” The best starting point is to see if the solution has an API and 9 times out of 10 it usually does.
Consult with your Xovis Customer Success Manager to see what needs to be done to integrate – usually very minimal work is required and it’s as simple as the company providing their API documentation and deciding what specific data you want to utilize. You can get in touch via e-mail or by using our contact form.