From Students to Start-Ups – Asian Innovation at its Best

Oct 30, 2015

The weekend of the 3rd October proved to be a melting pot of creativity, skill, and sheer ingenuity as hundreds of students and developers descended on the precincts of Singapore’s main airport for two exciting inaugural hackathon events hosted by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the Changi Airport Group (CAG).

SITA was honored to be part of both events and able to see firsthand the range and depth of innovation that quickly materialized in such a short time frame and that met the business challenges set by both organizations.

Exceptional Service and Social Engagement

SIA reached out to local universities and polytechnics to take part in its App Challenge with the theme ’Your Travel, Your Way’, that sought ideas to enable SIA to further enhance its passenger services and to encourage engagement among SIA customers who share common profiles. The event attracted close to 180 participants at its Kick-Off session.

SITA representatives from our local Singapore office and from SITA Lab and SITAONAIR provided support on the floor for the event. SITA's Airport API, Beacon Registry API, Flight Information API, and the SITAONAIR Inflight Wi-Fi voucher API were all delivered through our Developer.aero platform.

A concept that proved very popular with participants was the availability of beacons and the SITA Common Use Beacon Registry which enabled the teams to utilize a simulated airport zone within the hackathon venue. Using the Beacon Registry APIs, apps we are able to retrieve lists of beacons deployed at this pseudo airport and to get details of individual beacons which could be used to determine passenger location within the zone and therefore provide contextualized content or trigger a notification to assist the passenger such as baggage claim belt number or check-in information. Individual beacons were also available to developers for testing and 32 teams came forward to collect beacons during the Kick-Off.

First, second and third winning entries were inflight apps that aimed to enhance the experience of passengers and cabin crew while onboard the aircraft, all concepts made possible by the availability of SIA’s inflight Wi-Fi connectivity.

The wining app enhances the end-to-end inflight experience between passengers and cabin crew. The runners up included an app that aims to improve passengers’ resting patterns on board, and an intelligent virtual inflight assistant. Other finalists tackled the challenges of group decision making and social media collaboration and communication within travel groups and destination experts.

In addition to SITA, other technology partners that supported the event were Amadeus, IBM, MasterCard, NUS Enterprise, TATA Consultancy Services, Tibco Mashery and Skyscanner.

For more information on the SIA App Challenge, http://www.singaporeair.com/jsp/cms/en_UK/press_release_news/ne151012.jsp

Challenging the Airport Experience

The CAG hackathon naturally had a stronger airport focus for its challenges and was Changi’s first open innovation initiative to invite a range of technologists, from students to seasoned developers, to relook at the traveler experience - Pre-Departure, In Transit and On Arrival – and develop innovative solutions to help Changi stay ahead of its competition. It also had a category for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs to enable them to collaborate with CAG and progress the resulting solutions post-hackathon.

SITA APIs were again employed by hackers via the Developer.aero platform for this event including the Airport API, Flight Information API, Boarding Pass API and the SITAONAIR Inflight Wi-Fi voucher API.

Kiosk technology featured in the winning entries in both categories in addition to mobile apps. An Automated Form Kiosk (AFK) that allows travelers to scan their boarding pass and passport to generate a prefilled immigration card was one of the prize winning entries in the Start-up Category. The overall winner in this category was a clever virtual customer service desk powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), followed in second place by an app that delivered pre-boarding flight information and navigation assistance throughout the airport.

The Open Category also produced an array of inspired innovations, from apps that again employed kiosks which allowed personal communications between travelers in the airport and city centre attractions, to online mobile media streaming and a novel idea that used direct connectivity from an app to a range of Wi-Fi networks, each designated with its own Changi Airport activity, for example, ‘Shop at Changi’, which won the overall award.

For more information on the Changi Airport event, https://medium.com/@UP_Singapore/changi-airport-hackathon-that-time-30-teams-spent-a-whole-weekend-at-the-airport-a288883cdb06#.cg02tvnx7