The National Academies

ACRP 01-41 [Active]

Airport Blockchain Implementation Guidebook

  Project Data
Funds: $330,000
Staff Responsibility: Theresia H. Schatz
Research Agency: InterVISTAS
Principal Investigator: Solomon Wong
Effective Date: 6/14/2021
Completion Date: 8/13/2022

The concept of blockchain emerged approximately 10 years ago as the architecture underlying the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The idea of blockchain is to create open, distributed ledgers or data that can be shared across many different nodes (i.e., each computer within the network of computers). Blockchain can be public, non-permissioned (anyone can initiate and validate a transaction on that blockchain), or private/permissioned (only certain parties can initiate and validate a transaction).
Since the concept emerged, blockchain has been recognized for its potentially broad applicability beyond financial or currency transactions, for example, to set up “smart contracts” that use a highly complex and contingent set of criteria and conditions that, when met, automatically and rapidly trigger a transaction. Blockchain offers several key advantages, including increased security and control over transactions, increased speed of transactions, decreased cost of transactions and data sharing, and expanded opportunities for more complex transactions. Blockchain could also be used to incentivize efficiency, transparency, and good behavior across parties.
In the airport industry, potential applications for blockchain include security and identification, flight data management, airport resource management, safety and maintenance, baggage and cargo tracking, regulatory compliance, and more. Recent use cases include, offering blockchain applications specific to health and well-being aspects within the built environment, COVID-19 for passenger health verification and contact tracing, facilitating a contactless passenger experience, and tracking the movement of healthcare supplies and pharmaceuticals (including vaccines) from origin to final destination.
While blockchain guidance may be available for other industries, there is currently no airport-specific implementation guidance available.  

The objective of this research is to develop detailed guidance for the implementation of blockchain and associated technologies to provide business solutions, operational efficiencies, and improved transparency for airport decision-makers and stakeholders. The guidance document should conform to the following format with a range of emphasis in each area and include, but not be limited to:   
1. Awareness (10-15%): What is blockchain and how is it being used at airports?
  • Examples of implemented use cases and corresponding significant applications; and
  • Emerging trends (e.g., standards to track for rapid adoption).
 2. Readiness (25-30%): Are airports and stakeholders ready?
  • Development of planning and decision-making tools (e.g., decision trees, checklists) to determine if blockchain is applicable;
  • Examples to determine the appropriate resources needed; and
  • Business process mapping to determine data gaps.
 3. Implementation (40-45%): What are the right resources and tools?  
  • Formulation of detailed use case studies to assist airports, airlines, and stakeholders in implementing a blockchain business solutions;
  • Determination of required expertise;
  • Development of new concept of operations for blockchain-based solutions and new business models through an impact assessment to identify value creation and contribution; and
  • Principles and artifacts (i.e., technical reference architecture identifying the interfaces and where the data resides), collaboration frameworks, governance model, security.
 4. Assessment and Lessons Learned (15-20%): What did we learn? How do we operationalize?
  • Design methodologies and monitoring processes;
  • Development of a training manual for internal staff for the monitoring and evaluation process;
  • Defining the monitoring points to ensure the robustness of the solution; and
  • Development of key performance indicators (KPIs) and return on investment (ROI) modeling to determine success and savings.
The research plan should include appropriate deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at minimum:
1. A data collection plan and research methodology in formulating the guidance.  
2. An annotated listing of use cases that could focus on potential applications for airports and airlines including an implementation matrix of stakeholder requirements for approving a blockchain project.
3. A draft outline and update of progress for “Section 3: Implementation” component of the guidance (as outlined above).
4. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks, an annotated outline of the guidance document, a description of their use case studies used in their planned deliverable, and an updated work plan for remaining tasks. All of this should demonstrate to the panel the thought process behind how the final deliverables will address the components outlined in the objective.
5. A plan for the transition of the final deliverable to maintain relevancy post-delivery to ACRP for the industry to keep the guidance current.
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.
The final deliverables will include:
(1) A guidance document to include decision-making tools and a training manual that meets the objective; and (2) (a) a Summary of Key Findings; (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo; and (c) a technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

A contractor has been selected, research is underway. 


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