Skip to Main Content
Skip to main content

Sydney Airport unlocks new data management, analytics and operational capabilities with Azure to enhance the customer experience

Sydney Airport is one of the world’s longest-running commercial airports and the busiest in Australia. Before COVID, Sydney Airport welcomed more than 44 million passengers annually, supported 336,000 jobs and generated more than $42 billion in economic activity, equivalent to nearly 7 per cent of NSW’s Gross State Product.

In 2020, as borders reopened, demand for international travel surged. The influx of passengers returning to Sydney Airport’s terminals provided an opportunity to accelerate the airport’s long-term data strategy. This strategy included harnessing real-time data to streamline airport resource management, monitor airport capacity and enhance the passenger experience.

Garrick Bryant, Head of Data Strategy at Sydney Airport, said the objective of the airport’s data strategy was to provide deeper insights into the breadth of airport operations – from kerbside drop-off, to check-in, to baggage drop, to immigration – to deliver a seamless customer experience.

“The goal was to deliver a daily operational tool that would provide us with real-time data identifying where we should allocate resources to improve the efficiency and safety of the airport for customers.”

Sydney Airport partnered with Bi3 Technologies and the Microsoft Data & AI team to undertake a scope of work that would help achieve this goal.

The first phase of the scope of work was to build a new data analytics platform that would streamline and modernise the airport’s data ingestion processes to support strategic decision-making. The second phase included creating an Operational Dashboard that harnessed AI and machine learning (ML) to enhance the passenger experience.

Built within the Microsoft Azure ecosystem, the two phases of work would unlock the visibility, efficiency, and flexibility of real-time data at Sydney Airport.

Using the Azure platform for data-driven growth

The new data platform relied on a ‘plug-and-play’ approach, providing the Sydney Airport team with a holistic, real-time data estate at their fingertips. A number of interfaces were migrated into the new Azure data platform, allowing teams to access to an unprecedented level of data.

“Sydney Airport’s priority was the availability of real-time data,” says Thiru Subramaniam, Data Architect at Bi3 Technologies. “By migrating to the Azure ecosystem, we were able to rapidly build proof-of-concepts to explore new options and bring real-time data into the hands of these key teams.”

The platform leverages Azure Data Factory, Azure SQL and Azure Stream Analytics to reduce complexity and simplify data integration. With the platform configured to optimise data streaming, capturing data in real-time allows the airport to democratise data so it can be accessed for various scenarios, such as asset tracking, customer experience, quality control, health and safety. It also allows Sydney Airport to leverage machine learning to enable predictive maintenance and forecasting to improve accuracy and efficiency in airport operations.

Delivering an enhanced passenger experience with granular insights

December 2022 Luxury Precinct

Sydney Airport and its partners built a new Operational Dashboard, leveraging the enhanced data capabilities enabled by the Azure platform. This allows the operations teams to support passengers at critical points of interaction through enhanced visibility and reporting.

“There are more than 20 customer touchpoints across the airport precinct as passengers arrive and make their way through to departures. Each touchpoint provides an opportunity to improve efficiency and create a positive journey for customers,” said Bryant.

The operational dashboard helps teams oversee every touchpoint from a single pane of glass, giving them greater visibility and information needed to make data-driven decisions around resource allocation.

While the Operational Dashboard is improving the customer experience at various touchpoints, its security processing has seen the most improvement, with passengers making their way through security screening in under 10 minutes.

Using Azure AI Machine Learning and Stream Analytics, the dashboard allows Sydney Airport to forecast customer numbers at each touchpoint by collecting information in granular detail. As a result, the airport’s data strategy team has achieved 95 per cent forecasting accuracy, enabling them to proactively estimate peak periods and identify actionable strategies to ensure efficiency.

Sydney Airport recently won the Australian Airports Association (AAA) Airport Excellence Operation Award for its work with the Operational Dashboard.

Deepening a growth mindset through strong partnerships

As part of the partnership, Sydney Airport had access to support from Microsoft through the Microsoft Unified Service, which helped the company navigate the Azure platform confidently and efficiently.

In Thiru Subramaniam’s words: “We knew that if we ever had an issue or couldn’t figure out how to make the platform meet our needs, targeted support was only a phone call away. It was a three-way partnership where we at Bi3 Technologies could always rest assured that Microsoft was providing the best support available, so we could confidently guide the team at Sydney Airport through the process.”

“We value our partnership with Sydney Airport, Garrick and his team, and look forward to a continued partnership that delivers strong results for the airport,” said Rodney Agassi, Director of Bi3 Technologies.

“Sydney Airport is far ahead of other organisations in Australia in terms of diving in headfirst and exploring the possibilities of AI. The Operational Dashboard is dramatically improving the traveller experience and reinventing how the business operates to meet customer needs, just by leveraging the sheer power of data,” said Harish Vellat, Executive Director – Small Medium Businesses & Corporate Business Leader, Microsoft Australia.