The National Academies

ACRP 03-61 [Pending]

Implementing and Improving Data Analytics Capabilities at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 19 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin



Data analytics is a broad term that encompasses many diverse types of data analyses.  Any type of information can be subjected to data analytics techniques to gain insights that can be used for decision-making. Complicated airport organizational structures make it difficult to identify the primary areas of concern, prioritize actions, and make effective changes for the future. Yet with the introduction of data analytics, airports can better understand not only their day-to-day operations, but ultimately address their challenges by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and using evidence-based decision-making. Data is abundantly available throughout the airport setting and can be found in areas such as operations, finance, retail, and passenger movement, but the limiting factor is often collecting and analyzing the data to empower airport decision-makers. Other impediments to data analytics include resource limitations, data contained in silos, inconsistent metrics, and lack of training in the use of modern data science techniques.


Through data analytics, airports can perform valuable tasks such as better visualizing their data to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their operations, developing predictive analysis and what-if scenarios, backing up their management decisions with hard data, identifying operational inefficiencies, and leveraging historical information and/or real-time data to better plan for the future.




The objective of this research is to develop an ACRP WebResource to help airports leverage data more effectively by building or enhancing their data analytic capabilities.


The ACRP WebResource should be written for all types and sizes of airports and should include and/or address, at a minimum:

  • A primer, written for employees at all levels of the organization, including the benefits of a data analytics program, the requirements (effort/cost/employees) for a data analytics operation, the importance of engaging airport stakeholders in a data analytics program, and simple steps to begin a data analytics program including the capabilities and skill sets needed to manage such a program.
  • Glossary of terms specific to data analytics.
  •  An overview of typical data architecture and governance and examples of comprehensive systems in use at various sizes of airports. The overview should include a discussion of methods for ensuring that datasets are available across an organization and that silos are minimized. 
  • An overview of how data-sharing relationships are developed and managed, including sample contractual language.
  • Identification of data messaging standards available to all sizes of airports.
  • Listing of potential data sources according to their data sophistication/complexity and capability.
  • Listing of potential data analytics applications and/or services including dashboard and reporting functionality.
  • Listing of end users of data (audience) and examples of how the data is being used (i.e., airport departments, airlines, tenants, concessionaires, government entities, business partners, third parties, etc.).
  • Identification of how airports are using data analytics to help them with future planning, revenue generation, efficiency in airport management, and effectiveness of day-to-day operations.
  • Identification of existing systems used by airports, the primary purpose of the system(s), and how the system(s) categorizes data (i.e., airport operations, life safety, finance, etc.).
  • Discussion on data privacy and security (i.e., confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data), including applicable standards and best practices.
  • Identification of training and resource requirements.
  • Discussion of current obstacles and challenges to creating a data analytics program and recommendations to mitigate them.
  • Discussion of strategies and action plans for understanding and improving data analytics maturity.
  • At least six case studies of airports of various sizes and a method for evaluating how best to leverage standard datasets available at each airport taking into consideration needs, range of system users, cost, effort, etc.




The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.


The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables:

  • A white paper, delivered within 3 months of the contract’s effective date, with (1) an outline for the primer; (2) a synopsis of different systems and datasets that are generally available at U.S. airports; and (3) a data collection plan.
  •  A case study plan that includes suggestions for at least six case studies with representation from each of the following FAA categories: nonhub, small hub, medium hub, large hub, and a general aviation airport.
  • Interim Report including a framework and outline of the final WebResource.


The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a web-enabled teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution, (2) one in-person interim deliverable review meeting, and (3) web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.


The final deliverables will include:

  • WebResource;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo; and
  • Technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

Status: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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