Case study Distribution and transport

Airport Analytics

Don’t be a passenger; drive strategic decisions from your data

We worked with Newcastle International Airport to analyse the data sources available and relate these to the defined KPIs, designing a layered approach to reporting that on one hand provides the at-a-glance high-level dashboard view of the whole organisation for the board, and on the other a suite of much more focussed pages for department heads and operational managers.

In many businesses today there are torrents of data flying about; some internal to the organisation, some external; some in structured line of business systems some in more informal or semi-structured forms like spreadsheets. In all that data lies valuable information that the intelligent business can use to make informed strategic decisions. When embarking on a Business Insight project the temptation is always there to look at which of this data can be easily accessed and design a reporting solution around that; and in some scenarios this may be a valid approach to get some quick wins or to drive through a proof of concept project. The real challenge however is to formulate business-led KPIs and design a cohesive reporting solution to answer the questions that the business needs to ask itself, and then go looking for the information that is going to answer those questions. At the same time, the design needs to work for users that have different roles; the needs of a board member will be different to a head of department, and different again to an analyst who wants to really get down into the secrets locked in the depths of the data.

The solution

We designed and built a secure data warehouse to integrate and store the relevant data and accurately piece together the facts, and high performance OLAP cubes to facilitate reporting and interactive analysis. Data is extracted from a variety of sources, including the Airport’s SAP ERP system, EPOS, Flight Information Display System (for passenger and flight data) and their car parking and telephone systems.

The scorecards and fully interactive analytic dashboards, operational and legislative reports are available to the relevant users on the corporate SharePoint intranet using a combination of Microsoft data visualisation technologies, including PerformancePoint, Reporting Services and PowerPivot.

In it for the long-haul

The project began life focussed on a confined part of the business; this proved so successful that more of the defined KPIs were built in, encompassing more and more of the diverse business areas that make up an airport, including aeronautical, financial and human resources data, as well as data from security systems to support the monitoring of passenger movement habits in the terminal. The scalable design of the data warehouse, and the choice of implementation technologies, mean that additional “modules” such as these can be added over time.

Waterstons’ development expertise and application of the latest Microsoft technology has been integral to the success of this project.

Self-service reporting in the hands of the decision makers

We have established a long-term working relationship with the airport and are regularly working on the BI system to meet changing business priorities and emerging technologies. One of the more recent developments was to introduce a data discovery tool together with a user-friendly reporting model to allow specific users to create their own ad-hoc reports and analyses of very detailed aeronautical information that provides the facts they need for contract negotiations with airlines.


  • Commercial revenue and operational cost performance can be tracked allowing continuous assessment of the business’ performance.
  • Collective data allows automatic calculation of operational KPIs such as passenger throughput and dwell time, enabling assessment of the passenger journey with the aim of reducing queue time.
  • Scorecards are deployed through the existing SharePoint based intranet system allowing managers to view performance data easily within team sites.
  • Advanced reporting provides the data on which informed decisions can be made regarding operational performance, pricing, promotional offers, and advertising spend.
    • Analysis of car park bookings and comparison to budget and previous years’ performance allows for optimal resourcing and a more proactive marketing approach.
    • Automated collection and integration of data from disparate source systems eliminates error-prone and time-consuming manual processes to produce reports, and allows calculation of metrics from data combined from multiple sources that was never before possible or practical.

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The project has delivered an exceptional business intelligence system that provides us with dynamic information which we can use to proactively improve our business performance.
George Nesbitt General Manager – Business Development & IT

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