Changi Airport is set to transform its operations for the future, with a new S$50 million ($34.87 million) programme to drive innovation over the next five years. In partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), Changi Airport Group (CAG) has launched the ‘Changi Airport Living Lab Programme’. The programme will see CAG collaborating with innovation-driven companies and startups, to develop and demonstrate new technology solutions, in a live airport environment.

CAG said that it has recognised the importance of increasing its pace of innovation to strengthen the airport’s competitiveness. This is imperative in an increasingly complex operating environment where travellers’ needs are fast changing.

CAG expected to partner companies and start-ups to capture the many opportunities emerging in the burgeoning air travel market. With the support of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the Living Lab Programme is a platform for CAG, and partners in the airport community (including government agencies, ground-handlers, concessionaires, security providers and cleaning companies) to co-create, test and demonstrate new solutions to future proof the airport.

The airport authority said that there are several technology areas that CAG believes are ready for innovation and adoption in the airport such as the automation and robotics, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), non-intrusive security technologies, and smart infrastructure management.

Singapore Changi Airport handled 4.78 million passenger movements in November 2016, a 3.2% increase year over year. Aircraft movements grew by 3.4% at 29,710 landings and takeoffs, while cargo shipments rose to 173,170 tons, a 7.9% increase YoY.

Changi Airport has already started working with partners to test solutions in some of these areas to achieve a more seamless and positive experience for passengers and visitors to the airport. For example, it has been running prototype trials for autonomous cleaning robots to clean the vast tracts of floors in the airport terminals.

It is also exploring the use of automated guided vehicles to ferry passengers between terminals. Another example is taxi queue analytics, whereby sensors are used to determine the number of people in taxi queues and the estimated wait time. This would allow the airport to provide travellers with better advice on ground transport options during peak periods, as well as alert taxi drivers about impending demand for taxis at the airport.

Through this programme, Changi Airport aims to forge win-win collaborations with its innovation partners. Currently, there are more than 55 million passengers passing through Changi Airport each year, generating over S$2 billion in concession sales. CAG believes that this is a rich eco-system that companies can tap on to test, refine and demonstrate their solutions.

Lee Seow Hiang, CEO of CAG said: “Building innovation today is critical to transforming our business and operations for the future. We look forward to partnering established companies and enterprising start-ups to develop cutting-edge technologies for the airport. Through our Living Lab collaborations, I believe that we can add value to our partners in helping them scale up their solutions for real-world applications.”