ACI and IATA’s NEXTT – Creating a common vision for the future of air travel

Nina Brooks by Nina Brooks | Jun 1, 2018

Q&A with Nina Brooks, Director, Security, Facilitation and IT, ACI World

What is New Experience Travel Technologies (NEXTT) all about, and why was it created?

NEXTT will investigate how passengers, cargo, baggage and aircraft move through the complete travel journey with a focus on change in three areas: off-airport activities, advanced processing technology and interactive decision-making. 

It came about after many conversations with IATA about how we could bring the industry together to scope out a vison to enhance the on-the-ground experience, inform industry investment and help governments improve regulatory framework – all in the effort to build the “journey of the future” in a sustainable and collaborative way.

Without industry players on board, helping to inform and inspire the programme, this initiative will not work. IATA and ACI decided to come together to encourage a collaborative approach to tackle challenges such as significant growth, evolving customer expectations and optimizing emerging technologies, processes and design developments.

What recommendations are you making to member airports for implementation of NEXTT strategies, are NEXTT initiatives best implemented in phases, and what might those phases be?

Many of the concepts in the NEXTT vision are already being implemented or developed through ACI and IATA working groups and projects, such as Smart Security and One Identity. ACI’s initiatives such as our Digital Transformation best practice, Seamless Travel using ACRIS standards and Airport Terminal Beacons are also part of the NEXTT vision. We are encouraging member airports to get involved in these initiatives and are also looking for airports’ feedback on future developments and innovative practices.

We will be hosting a session at our Annual General Assembly Congress and Exhibition in Brussels to discuss digital identity, and are looking forward to hearing about some case studies from airports leading in this field.

However, since no one airport is the same, different parts of the vision being more applicable in some parts of the world, we encourage airports to adopt initiatives and practices that best suit their operations. In addition, some of the components of the vision are using developing technologies that would be implemented later than those available now.

What technology advances would best support the needs of future airports and how far along are they in the development cycle? 

We are considering the four main elements of a journey – the passenger, baggage, cargo and the aircraft turnaround.

Advanced processing and the digital transformation of airports involves both the implementation of new technologies and the integration of existing technologies, processes and services to deliver a better experience to all stakeholders.

In terms of off-airport activities, we already see airports and airlines offering options for remote bag drop, and independent companies providing services such as baggage pick up and delivery. Many travel formalities are now completed remotely, online or through apps. This change does not necessarily require technology advances, but rather process innovation coupled with regulatory support.

Digital transformation is about business transformation – leveraging new technologies such as indoor geolocation, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, identity management, flow management, data mining and the Internet of Things (IoT) to support business needs. It is also about making these digital technologies secure in the cyber world to ensure that every system works as intended and data is protected. 

Are there any technologies that you would like to see evolve faster before member airports would deploy them?

A contactless process for the passenger is vital for an efficient airport operation and seamless journey. Digital identity is a key enabler of self-service and biometrics will play an important role in tomorrow’s journey. Biometrics have come a long way in a short space of time, and the technology continues to improve. Coupled with mobile technologies, this will be a powerful driver towards the NEXTT vision, but it will be critical to have interoperability between stakeholders and globally agreed standards.

For security, identity also plays a key role in being able to deliver an efficient and truly risk-based experience.  We need to continue to trial, test and pilot new technologies that are available today, while looking for future innovations that will work in all airport environments.

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Nina Brooks

Nina Brooks

Director, Security, Facilitation and IT, ACI World
Nina provides guidance and support to the airport community, represents airports interests with regulators, and encourages industry collaboration to identify improvements in passenger processes and the overall travel experience while promoting security at all touchpoints of the journey. She has a background in IT as well as extensive experience in facilitation and security for both airlines and airports, having worked at Virgin Atlantic, IATA and at Intervistas Consulting. Nina is the official observer to the AVSEC and Facilitation Panels at ICAO, is on the editorial board for Aviation Security International and teaches Aviation Security at McGill University in Montreal.
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