National Academies Press: OpenBook

Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer (2012)

Chapter: Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 2
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 3
Page 4
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
×
Page 4
Page 5
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 5

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ACRP Report 59: Information Technology Systems at Airports—A Primer (referred to throughout as “the primer”), provides insight and advice to help airport executives plan for and communicate about information technology (IT) at airports. This primer is based on the knowledge, expertise, opinions, and recommendations of airport executives and other airport industry professionals col- lected through focus group discussions, anonymous online surveys (the source for the quotations used throughout this primer), interviews, and case studies. In addition to proven techniques and tools applied at some airports, this primer provides innovative solutions for common IT issues. 1.1 Purpose of the Primer In today’s airports, IT is a core component of all systems. Airports are offering more com- prehensive services to their tenants and customers in the normal course of doing business. This primer was developed as a user-friendly management tool to help airport executives and IT professionals: • Identify and communicate effectively regarding common IT issues. • Articulate sound IT principles for implementing IT systems. • Implement a standard IT system lifecycle process for their airport. • Effectively describe the benefits and value of IT systems when formulating airport strategic goals and making financial investment decisions. • Understand the fundamental architecture concepts of IT systems. Ultimately, the information in the primer should facilitate understanding among airport exec- utives and help them work together more effectively on IT projects, leading to better performance and reliability of IT systems and fewer cost overruns and delays during system implementation. 1.2 The Communication Triangle This primer has three audiences because three separate groups fall into the category of airport executives—the CEO, the CIO, and the stakeholder executive. Readers may not have these exact titles, but they are likely to fill one or more of the typical executive roles described in the following. • CEO—The chief executive officer, typically called the airport director, is responsible for align- ing the company, internally and externally, with his or her strategic vision. • CIO—The chief information officer, or information technology manager, is responsible for the airport’s computers and communications systems, including infrastructure, hardware, and software applications. The CIO implements IT projects and operates systems already in place. 1 C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

• Stakeholder executive—A stakeholder is anyone who uses technology systems and cares about the systems’ performance. For the purposes of this primer, the term stakeholder execu- tive refers to senior airport managers who report to the CEO and represent users who depend on IT systems, including those in charge of property management, operations, maintenance, security, finance, and human resources. The three-point relationship between these executive roles can be described as a triangle of communication, as shown in Figure 1-1. The triangle shape is appropriate because all legs of a triangle depend on each other for structural support, just as the three executives in the airport communication triangle must communicate effectively to implement complex technology. The IT communication process is continual, not a one-time effort. For example, when a CIO and stakeholder executive work together to get a new system approved, that step is not the end 2 Information Technology Systems at Airports–A Primer Figure 1-1. Triangle of communication

of the communication process. Collaboration and communication must continue through the implementation phase so that all parties understand system functions, benefits, and operational requirements. Chapter 2 is focused on facilitating a mutual understanding between airport executives regarding IT. The chapter highlights the perspectives of each of these executives and what they would like the others to understand. Common challenges that these executives face are discussed and solutions are suggested. 1.3 Guiding IT Principles Given the critical importance of IT infrastructure to the airport’s successful operations, air- ports must establish a set of IT principles to guide IT investments and implementations. These principles, intended to be enduring and seldom changed, help make the IT environment as pro- ductive and cost-effective as possible. They should be developed jointly by the CIO, CEO, and stakeholder executives to align with airport strategic goals and visions. Chapter 3 contains a more detailed explanation of IT principles and provides sample principles that have been found use- ful by many organizations. 1.4 IT System Lifecycle One way of improving communication about IT is for all executives to understand and fol- low a common IT system lifecycle for managing a system from conception through design, implementation, and ongoing operations until the system is removed or replaced. Adhering to a deliberate, structured, and methodical process integrates people, data, and business systems from all areas of the airport. The result is a high-quality system that: • Meets or exceeds customer expectations. • Reaches completion within time and cost estimates. • Works effectively and efficiently within established IT principles and infrastructure. • Is cost-effective to operate and maintain. This primer organizes the IT system lifecycle into four key phases to make it easy for readers to grasp: 1. Strategic planning 2. Planning 3. Implementation 4. Operations and maintenance Chapter 4 describes the activities performed and the outputs of each phase in the IT system lifecycle. Sample outlines of recommended system lifecycle documentation are provided in Appendix A. 1.5 Evaluating IT Systems Chapter 5 outlines a four-step methodology for evaluating IT systems and making IT invest- ment decisions. The four steps are: 1. Documenting system benefits 2. Determining total lifecycle costs (TLC) 3. Performing a cost–benefit analysis 4. Scoring system values objectively Introduction 3

Chapter 5 also provides a simple scorecard that can be used to determine the value of a pro- posed IT system. It takes into account both financial and nonfinancial benefits when valuing the system. This scorecard helps in evaluating a single system or comparing multiple systems when budgets are limited and choices must be made. 1.6 IT Systems Architecture Airport IT systems can be very complex. They are often grouped into four conceptual cate- gories and depicted in a layered fashion, as shown in Figure 1-2. The layered architecture ex- emplifies how the systems of one layer act as building blocks for the systems in the next layer. A more detailed explanation of these categories and of other aspects of IT systems architecture appears in Chapter 6. In addition, a list of airport IT systems and brief descriptions are included in Appendix B. 1.7 Checklists—A Common Management Tool Checklists are useful management tools for ensuring consistency and completeness—an example from a related field is the checklist of safety precautions that pilots go through before every flight. When used consistently, checklists are very effective at ensuring that activities are completed in accordance with standard practices. Table 1-1 is an IT system lifecycle check- list useful for ensuring that the IT system lifecycle process described in Chapter 4 has been implemented completely. 1.8 IT Vocabulary The airport industry is full of acronyms and abbreviations that are not readily understood by others outside the specialized world of airports. Information technology also has its own unique vocabulary. To help airport executives sort out the terminology, Appendix C provides a list of airport and IT acronyms and abbreviations along with expansions and brief descriptions. 4 Information Technology Systems at Airports–A Primer Figure 1-2. Systems architecture.

Introduction 5 Table 1-1. IT system lifecycle checklist.

Next: Chapter 2 - The IT Communication Triangle Solving IT Issues »
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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 59: Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer is designed to help facilitate mutual understanding between airport executives and information technology (IT) professionals to enable them to work together effectively on IT projects. One of the goals of the report is to help airports achieve better performance and reliability of IT systems and fewer cost overruns and delays during system implementation.

ACRP Report 59 offers techniques to identify critical IT issues and communicate effectively on those issues. The report also addresses sound IT principles for implementing new IT systems, describes the benefits and value of various IT systems, and highlights the fundamental architecture concepts of IT systems as they relate to airports.

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