A survey has found that upgraded security and passenger processes are the topmost information technology (IT) investment priorities for airports around the world.
According to the 11th edition of SITA / ACI Airport IT Trends Survey, approximately 47% of the airports put passenger and airport security at the top of their IT agenda.
More than 80% of the airports said that they would invest in the IT to give their passengers a more connected experience in the next three years. Self-service and mobile-based services were key areas of investment.
The survey covered global airports that have handled a total of 2.35 billion passengers or 42% of the overall passenger traffic in the past year.
Roughly 63% of airports have expressed their intention of spending more on technology in 2014. The amount of investment in this sector is estimated to reach $6.8bn.
The survey also reveals that airports will continue to invest in self-service to handle the increase in passenger numbers.
The next three years will see 86% of airports invest more in multi-service kiosks, self-bag drop and self-boarding services. Three-quarters of airports expect to see their passengers use self-service check-ins by 2017.
Approximately 60% of airports are planning to increase their numbers of common-use kiosks as they have been seen to be popular among passengers.
SITA CEO Francesco Violante said: "This is the age of the connected traveller with nearly all passengers carrying mobiles, tablets and other devices.
"It is vital that airports invest in the infrastructure to support the changing expectations of these passengers. This year’s survey shows that the majority of airports globally are investing more in new technologies and mobile services for passengers in an effort to improve passenger processes and satisfaction."
Close to 60% of airports will be investing in geo-location technology, which helps airports to provide location-based services to passengers and staff.
Innovative technologies such as near-field communications (NFC), iBeacon programmes and investigating wearable technologies have also caught the attention of the aviation industry, with 49%, 33% and 16% of airports planning to invest in these technologies respectively in the next three years.
The survey also showed that European airports have been the most proactive in making use of these new technologies with 76% of them planning programmes with geo-location, 55% with NFC and 23% with iBeacons by 2017.
While 50% of airports are providing flight status notifications to their passengers on mobiles, 90% plan to offer it within the next three years.
The use of mobile apps by airports will be expanded with airports planning to invest in providing services such as customer relationship management (CRM), way-finding, security waiting time notifications (73%) and retail services through mobile apps.
The number of airports offering CRM via social media will increase from 30% to 70%.