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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26735.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26735.
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1   The technology procurement process includes sourcing and acquiring software, hardware, and services; these are collectively referred to as technology tools. Systems and nuances of technology procurement vary within each airport depending on its governance, procurement vehicles, and funding guidelines. Navigating such variances at a pace conducive to the airports’ needs and technol- ogy evolution can be challenging if technology acquisition is limited to traditional procurement vehicles governed by federal, state, and local procurement rules and regulations. Innovative and alternate approaches to assembling the technology needed to meet demands and to navigating procurement options decrease friction and allow for timely acquisition of technology solutions. This synthesis identifies the efficient and innovative technology sourcing and procurement practices developed by airports. The work plan methodology included three overarching categories—meetings, action, and reporting—to organize deliverables and set expectations. Meetings included 26 inter- views with airport technology and procurement professionals, vendors, service providers, and consultants. Gaps identified after a literature review of 88 resources and the inter- views were further investigated through an 11-question, radio-button survey that received 20 responses. The synthesis data is summarized in the following three themes: • Theme 1: When the information technology (IT) business unit was immersed in the planning cycle(s), sourcing initiative(s), and procurement process(es), it eased purchasing and IT barriers. • Theme 2: A knowledge gap between end-users, technology procurement specialists, and IT experts has created a disconnect between analyses of the need, requests for a particular capability, and procurement of the technology required. • Theme 3: Airport staff are reluctant to question traditional technology procurement procedures; this is exacerbated by the knowledge gap identified in the second theme. The criticality of the airport IT business unit is the first theme. Visibility and assigned importance of airport IT business units differ depending on the airport’s governance, size, and activity. Airports that are leading innovation in this area have immersed IT in plan- ning cycles, sourcing initiatives, and procurement processes in order to ease barriers to the acquisition of needed technology. For example, the city of Phoenix, which owns and operates Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), improves its purchasing by using a document management module to manage asset documents across all business units (Fortin et al. 2017). Real-time information sharing across protected networks at PHX generates S U M M A R Y Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing One definition of technology is “. . . the set of knowledge, skills, experience, and techniques through which humans change, transform and use our environ­ ment in order to create tools, machines, products, and services that meet our needs and desires” (Carvalho et al. 2021).

2 Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing transparency: business units are each apprised of the activities conducted by other units. The airport’s interests, funding for approved projects, and continuity in implementation are more efficient throughout these technology procurement and integrated systems. The second theme is an identified knowledge gap between end-users, technology pro- curement specialists, and IT experts. The depth and breadth of end-user day-to-day func- tion, procurement rules and regulations, and technical jargon in IT create a disconnect between an analysis of the need, a request for a capability, and the procurement of needed technology. Daily necessities and reactive responses take precedence over root cause analysis for detailed scoping and advance planning. Goals for an IT unit may not align with its airport’s master plan. “Over 50% of CEOs believe that IT goals are not mapped to airport goals, and only 18% indicate that an IT master plan is produced” (Purnell et al. 2012). Pro- curement officers are often overwhelmed by requests for rapidly evolving software, with limited insight into the need for technology procurement. Resources are committed with less-than-ideal outcomes, such as for technology that may become obsolete even before it is implemented. The third theme is a reluctance on the part of airport staff to question traditional proce- dures; such reluctance further exacerbates the knowledge gap. Centralized approaches to identifying and purchasing needed technology reinforce a narrow decision-making struc- ture that typically uses the most popular contracting vehicle: the Request for Proposal. Airports using technology for greater transparency and more innovative approaches are those that incorporate networked decision-making governed by an integrated plan. At such airports, IT departments work directly with procurement departments to educate their staff members on hardware lifecycle replacement timelines. Staff members conduct research that exposes vendor and supplier fiscal year cycles. Equipped with data, these airports’ procurement departments are positioned to negotiate directly with suppliers for bulk purchases. Adding to the three themes is an unpredictable recovery timeline from COVID-19 events. Virus containment, advance health screening procedures, and restored trust in travel safety have resulted in careful negotiation of budgets, workforces, and customer projections that have had an impact on technology procurement. Unfortunately, malicious actors (including cybercriminals) have also developed advanced practices at an aggressive speed equal to that of airport innovation. Such sophistication has created security concerns that require exten- sive supply chain management of current technology, pending procurement, and related workforce training. As these elements develop, airports’ technology procurement processes evolve. Appen- dices A, B, and C are intended to assist with this evolution. Appendix A provides a technology procurement checklist. Appendix B illustrates technology procurement workflows. Appen- dix C offers technology procurement plan templates. Onboarding and implementing these resources are future-focused efforts that could occur in conjunction with the evolution of technology procurement processes (such as plan reviews and scheduled training).

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The technology procurement process includes sourcing and acquiring software, hardware, and services. Systems and nuances of technology procurement vary within each airport, and navigating such variances at a pace that meets the airports’ needs and technology evolution can be challenging.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 120: Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing identifies the efficient and innovative technology sourcing and procurement practices developed by airports.

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