Smart Airport

Technological advances are providing opportunities for innovative solutions to effectively increase capacity, enhance efficiency and improve safety, security and the passenger experience. Under HKIA’s smart airport strategy, AAHK is working closely with its business partners and technology partners to develop and employ innovative solutions to redefine the future travel experience.

Key initiatives

  • Internet-of-Things (IoT) monitoring systems – A network of IoT sensors have been deployed to monitor various airport systems. By combining artificial intelligence and data analytics, the systems are helping us to predict and diagnose problems across the airport’s baggage handling system, water pipes and sewerage system. When an anomaly is detected, real-time alerts allow us to react quickly to recover from breakdowns and minimise disruption to our operations.

  • Digital Twin – Paired with IoT sensors deployed at Terminal 1 (T1), the digital twin of T1, a virtual representation replicating its physical infrastructure and systems, collects real-time data across the airport. By simulating different predicted outcomes within the digital, we are able to make better decisions related to operations and maintenance. We are extending the application of this technology to the design and construction phases of the Car Park 4 extension and Sky Bridge.

  • Autonomous electric tractor (AET) – HKIA is the first airport in the world to use driverless AET for baggage delivery. Between December 2019 and March 2020, the AET logged over 5,000km and delivered over 17,000 pieces of luggage on the bonded road to the SkyPier baggage hall.

Differential GPS

High-definition camera

Optical radar

  • Provide improved location accuracy rate of about 10 to 15 centimetres

  • Detect objects nearby and keep the vehicle on the right track by using image positioning technology

  • Detect objects nearby to prevent collision and provide location information to AET

Case Study: Building Smart Airport Infrastructure

Q&A with Kelvin Wong, General Manager, Technical Services Systems

Please tell us about AAHK’s plan to upgrade the smart infrastructure of HKIA and its significance to AAHK’s Smart Airport vision.

AAHK is developing HKIA into a smart airport by making effective and innovative use of technology to deliver a unique passenger experience and further enhance operational efficiency at HKIA. To realise this Smart Airport vision, we have established a development strategy covering five key aspects, and ‘building and enabling a smart infrastructure’ is one of them. To support the smart airport development, we are building a set of core platforms to enable fast, agile and reliable connectivity among people, devices and facilities.

Our plan includes:

  • High speed Wi-Fi – increasing the number of high speed Wi-Fi zones with a speed of up to 400 megabits per second or more from 15 to 30.

  • 5G network – applying 5G technologies in airport operations.

  • Private mobile network dedicated for HKIA’s operation – an independent and reliable wireless network for use by business partners.

  • Internet-of-Things (IoT) network – analysing data collected by the massive amount of devices and facilities at HKIA for airport operation purpose.

With the above platforms, we are able to apply other technologies such as big data analytics and virtual reality (VR) applications to more effectively manage airport operations and respond to the needs of passengers.

How will smart airport infrastructure enable the implementation of innovative technological solutions to enhance the airport’s operational efficiency? Please share an example of the application of IT infrastructure.

The introduction of smart infrastructure, in particular the 5G network, is necessary to enable machine-to-machine communication between devices to power various smart initiatives, such as the deployment of IoT sensors for predictive maintenance, the auto pre-positioning of air bridges, and other operational applications.

One example of its application is the introduction of autonomous electric tractors (AET) to enhance operational efficiency after a year and a half of testing. Taking advantage of 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth, we can, for example, initiate an immediate stop of an AET remotely in an emergency. We are the first airport in the world to deploy a driverless AET for baggage delivery within a live environment.

What were the key milestones in 2019/20 and enhancements planned for 2020/21 and beyond?

We conducted 5G network trials at the departure hall with different mobile network operators in March and April 2019 to study the implementation of a 5G network at HKIA and validate use cases of the network. The public 5G service was initially launched at the Check-in Hall, Meeters and Greeters Hall and Baggage Reclaim Hall in April 2020. Full coverage across the airport island will be progressively introduced starting from 2021.