Airport of the future: Planning and design in airports of the future

As we move into the future, our airports are moving with us. The ever-increasing pace of life and technological advances means that airports must constantly evolve.

We are already seeing new developments in airport planning and design that will serve us well as passengers and travellers in an increasingly mobile world. In order to keep up with air travel demand, airports must consider how to manage a larger passenger load with improved efficiency, streamlined operations and reduced carbon footprint.

Pavements and runways in airports of the future may be detectably different from today’s. In a world of self-driving cars and drones, runways will likely be modified to allow for ground-level entry and exit of autonomous craft.

How are airports changing and what is the future of air travel?

The future of airports is being shaped by a number of factors that have been converging for some time. New developments in airport planning and design are driven by the need to anticipate and respond to changes in technology, such as self-driving cars and drones.

The public realm is also becoming more mobile, demanding airports that can accommodate new means of ground transport and provide facilities to meet the needs of passengers. We are also seeing a shift in passenger demographics, from a more homogenous passive consumer audience to a more diverse mix of active business and leisure travellers that have specific needs.

At the same time, airports are under growing pressure to reduce their environmental impact and improve the passenger experience.

Technology will play a significant role in shaping the future of air travel and the equipment we use to both operate and monitor airports has an important part to play.

What are the standards for airport design in the future?

Global certifications, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), are quickly becoming a benchmark for sustainable design in public projects.

Along with LEED, other industry-specific certifications are emerging to ensure best practices in airport planning and design. These include the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Airport Carbon Accreditation and Airport Certification for Sustainable Operations (ACSO), which is now required as part of an airport operator’s concession agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Airport of the Future Will be Powered by the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is also seen to play an important role in the future of air travel. The IoT, which represents a network of physical objects – from smartphones to smart roads – that are embedded with electronics, software and sensors to enable communication between these devices, is growing rapidly.

In airports of the future, IoT connectivity will enhance everything from security processes to passenger experience. It also has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of airports by monitoring energy use across entire terminals through connected lighting, HVAC and other systems.
The Internet of Things can be used to study the impact of operational changes, such as adjusting lighting levels or modifying an escalator’s speed.

IoT connectivity also allows passengers to engage with their surroundings, from the vehicles they arrive in to the stores and restaurants inside an airport.

Final Thoughts

As the world becomes increasingly connected and airports face increased pressure to reduce their environmental footprint, it is clear that technology will play a large role in shaping the future of air travel.

The Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles and sustainable building practices are all expected to revolutionize airports in the years ahead.

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