Case Study

Dubai Airports Flies Into The Future With Splunk

Executive Summary

With 90 million travelers passing through it each year, Dubai Airports is the world’s busiest airport and passenger numbers are still growing. To deliver the additional capacity this requires, the airport looked to use its data to drive efficiencies. Since deploying Splunk Enterprise, the company has seen benefits including:

  • Faster passenger flow
  • Better customer experience
  • New insights to drive future plans
    • Needed to increase airport capacity without any additional terminal space, infrastructure or runways
Business Impact
    • 95 percent of passengers through security in five minutes or less
    • Fastest airport WiFi in the world, with zero black spots
    • Ability to predict baggage load and get all bags to the right destination
    • Bathroom sensors enable efficient deployment of cleaning and maintenance resources
    • Improve service and security
Data Sources
    • Flight schedules
    • WiFi network data
    • Metal detector data
    • Baggage system
    • Sensor data (toilet doors, faucets, etc.)
    • Queue measurement cameras

Why Splunk

By 2020, passenger numbers at Dubai Airports will grow to 100 million travelers annually. But with no physical space to expand into, this capacity increase has to be delivered without any additional infrastructure or runways. “The only way to do that is to apply technology on customer-centric processes and use our data and a platform like Splunk to give us the real-time insights to drive efficiency across the airport,” says Michael Ibbitson, executive vice president, technology and infrastructure, Dubai Airports. He has been putting sensors everywhere: 3D cameras for measuring queues and security processes, metal detectors, baggage systems, and X-ray machines. The airport has built an airport operations center that monitors all of this data using Splunk Enterprise.

Through security in five minutes or less

The airport has a target to get 95 percent of passengers through security in five minutes or less; a target it meets day in, day out. By monitoring the archway metal detectors in security, Dubai Airports can identify trends in where any metallic objects are placed on the body. Passengers travelling to chillier destinations in winter are more likely to be wearing heavy shoes that can set off the alarm. These insights enable the airport to change the messaging on the screens in the security queue — for example to ask people to remove their shoes — and redeploy staff more effectively. The airport also shares these insights with the police and security teams to help them improve the service and security in the long term.

Delivering the fastest airport WiFi

Dubai Airports aims to deliver the world’s fastest airport WiFi, right from the minute people arrive so they can stream live sports, TV programs, and movies while they wait for their flights. To ensure that passengers are able to access the free, 200 MB internet with zero black spots, the airport monitors all the access points in real time with Splunk Enterprise. With up to 20,000 people connected at any one time, the IT team uses Splunk Enterprise to detect any areas of congestion. They can also detect any rogue WiFi hotspots — which can have a negative impact on the quality of the service that passengers experience — and systematically target them to remove them from the airport.

“We are using Splunk to dramatically improve the travel experience for millions of people.”

Michael Ibbitson, Executive Vice President,
Technology & Infrastructure

Dubai Airports

Getting 150 million bags to their destinations

Dubai Airports has the largest baggage system in the world, extending a total of 150 km, and handling more than 150 million bags annually. Each bag creates more than 200 data points, all of which are monitored in Splunk Enterprise to make sure it reaches its intended destination. Once the bag tag is printed, this data is also combined with airport operations data to predict the baggage load for the next four hours. Depending on the predicted load, Dubai Airports can spin up more carousels and allocate staff accordingly. “With machine learning in Splunk, we are planning to build on this approach, ultimately predicting the baggage load over the next 12 or even 24 hours,” says Ibbitson.

Golden bathrooms at the airport of the future

Dubai Airports has equipped the bathrooms in departures with sensors to ensure it can keep them clean and well maintained. The sensors show precisely which bathrooms have experienced the most traffic and even which stalls and faucets have been used the most, to deploy cleaning and maintenance resources efficiently. The airport can even tell how often people are washing their hands; if this number drops then it could indicate the sinks are not clean enough or there are too few sinks for the number of cubicles, helping inform decisions around the design of bathrooms in the future. “Our golden bathrooms allow us to improve the hygiene of the airport, reduce the spread of diseases, and create an overall better customer experience,” says Ibbitson.