How Wipro Improves Airport Passenger Boarding Queue Times Using AWS Services
By Dave Trieu, Sr. Solutions Architect, Canada Public Sector – AWS By Stephen Randolph, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect, GSI – AWS By Johnson Thomas, Lead Architect, Enterprise Architecture Practice – Wipro
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on enterprises on a global scale with unknown implications on how we do business in the future.
The aviation industry was impacted greatly as the need for social distancing and safety precautions became fundamental in reducing the spread. As air travel begins to increase, enabling social distancing standards for passenger safety is critical in restoring confidence when flying.
The traditional passenger boarding process consists of frequent one-to-one interactions, close contact with airport staff and other passengers, and limited access to the outdoors.
This creates a distinctive social distancing challenge for any airport or affiliated travel business to maintain an air of “business-as-usual” while mitigating the risk posed to travelers and providing peace of mind to customers and staff.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) operates Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest airport in total passenger traffic and North America’s second-largest in terms of international traffic, Pre-pandemic, the airport hosted upwards of 50 million airport travelers in 2019.
To deliver a seamless and enhanced passenger experience while meeting social distancing requirements and improving overall safety, GTAA launched the “Boarding Gate of the Future” initiative. As part of this initiative, GTAA collaborated with Wipro to develop and deploy a new solution called Passenger Queue System (PQS).
Wipro leveraged its Wipro FullStride Cloud Services to develop PQS. The solution alleviates passenger congestion, enables compliance of social distancing standards at boarding gates, and affords more freedom for passengers to dine and shop prior to the boarding process.
This post explores how Wipro developed, created, and deployed the innovative solution on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and allowed GTAA to enable social distancing and increase passenger safety by implementing a system to manage passenger boarding.
Wipro is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner with six AWS Competencies, including Industrial Software Consulting and Data and Analytics Consulting. Wipro is also a member of the AWS Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Well-Architected Partner Programs.
Wipro FullStride Cloud Services’ PQS solution includes a kiosk at the entrance of each gate that displays the current boarding row. Passengers can subscribe to receive updates by scanning a QR code, and the latest information will be available on their mobile devices.
With PQS, it’s no longer necessary for passengers to huddle around the flight gate for updates on boarding status. It also reduces time spent on announcements for flight agents, giving agents more focused time to get passengers onboarded while minimizing the congestion of passengers at any gate and improving the overall travel experience for all.
Travelers now have better insight into the current boarding process, as agents can publish announcements to the system such as “Upgrades are available” or “Please have your passport available at boarding.”
Additional benefits for passengers and airline agents include:
Seamless boarding process for agents, allowing them to board by zones or rows.
Social distancing management throughout the entire boarding process.
Reduced staff overhead with fewer agents being required to handle passenger queries.
Streamlined passenger communication, enabling compliance for the airline.
Real-time updates for passengers directly on their mobile devices or at the flight gate.
Additional revenue opportunities for the airline through upgrades.
How it Works from a Passenger Perspective
When a passenger scans a QR code (from the kiosk at the gate) on their mobile device, a web page is loaded will all pertinent information regarding their flight. A content management system (CMS) serves this information and has continuous interaction with Amazon API Gateway.
The CMS connects to Amazon API Gateway via a WebSocket connection. This enables passengers to have real-time updates without the need to refresh and request an update constantly.
Amazon API Gateway facilitates the WebSocket connection, a fully managed service that enables developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale. Amazon API Gateway acts as the “front door” for applications to access data and functionality from backend services in a secure manner.
The established connection information is sent to an AWS Lambda function. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service–all with zero administration. This Lambda function stores the connection information into a database.
The connection information is stored in Amazon DynamoDB, which is a managed NoSQL database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. It’s a fully managed, multi-region, multi-active, durable database with built-in security, backup and restores.
Using this system, passengers can now scan the QR code at the gate upon arriving and enjoy the freedom to eat, shop, or relax where they wish while staying up-to-date with the boarding process.
How it Works from an Airline Agent Perspective
Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) that securely delivers data, applications to customers with low latency and high transfer speeds. Amazon S3 is an object storage service that provides scalability, data availability, security, and performance, will host the origin data.
Once the application has loaded on the airline agent’s browser, the system authenticates the agent through the usage of Amazon Cognito. This service scales to millions of users and supports sign-in with social identity providers, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and enterprise identity providers via SAML 2.0 and OpenID Connect.
After authentication, agents can update flight information and start the boarding process with a simple click on the user interface (UI). When an airline employee initiates boarding, a request is sent to Amazon API Gateway and then relayed to AWS Lambda.
The request is processed through Lambda and pushed to Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), a fully managed message queuing service that enables you to decouple and scale microservices and serverless applications.
The purpose of using SQS with Lambda is that it allows for a robust, decoupled, scalable event-driven architecture. This enables the system to have increased fault tolerance, where failed execution typically means the execution would drop without any retry attempts.
Lambda supports SQS triggers with built-in retry functionality, provides additional resilience and debuggability.
SQS passes the message to a Lambda function, obtains the WebSocket connection information, and then pushes the information to the content management system. Passengers are notified on their mobile devices, informing them of any updates in real-time.
Wipro FullStride Cloud Services’ PQS solution leverages a serverless architecture that automatically scales from one boarding gate to hundreds of gates. With serverless computing, infrastructure management like provisioning and patching are handled by AWS while reducing cost with a pay-for-value billing model.
With this model, you will never pay for over-provisioning and your resource utilization is optimized on your behalf.
The following diagram shows how the variety of AWS technologies and services work together.
Figure 1 – Wipro’s PQS architecture diagram.
Additionally, PQS leverages the following AWS services from a database perspective:
Amazon DynamoDB has built-in security, as well as backup and restore functionality with in-memory caching for internet-scale applications.
Amazon Aurora is a relational database built for the cloud that combines performance with the simplicity of automated management tools. Aurora takes care of hardware provisioning, software patching, setup, configuration, and backups automatically. It stores the flight information for the passengers.
With a serverless architecture, Wipro FullStride Cloud Services’ PQS system can automatically scale from one gate to hundreds of gates without intervention, patching, and provisioning at a reduced cost.
With the implementation of the PQS solution, the following benefits were observed:
Improved on-time performance (OTP) with zero boarding-related delays at gates utilizing PQS.
Ancillary revenue collected from over 80% of flights for the upgrade option offered to passengers before boarding via PQS.
Gates with PQS meet Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) requirements for visual boarding announcements.
Streamlined operations with airline agents making fewer announcements regarding boarding processes.
Agents noticed a significant decrease in passenger questions about the boarding process.
This post discusses how Wipro FullStride Cloud Services and AWS were used to build a dynamic, resilient solution that improves the passenger experience and airline operational efficiency for the boarding process. It also reduces congestion and maintains social distancing.
Wipro is a strategic end-to-end technology services provider to large global airports, delivering safe, healthy, and seamless passenger experience.
Customers can leverage the unified strength of Wipro’s deep airport domain knowledge integrated with digital expertise to work at the intersection of business requirements and technology innovations to solve problems using a human-centric and design-led approach.
Wipro continues to strengthen its focus in this sector by combining a “digital airport” vision with “smart airport” models aligned to Airport Service Quality (ASQ) parameters, core airport services, and advanced airport solutions.