Research Projects

Guidance on Concept Planning and Designing of Airport Coordination Centers

Airports are increasingly interested in bringing multi-discipline subject matter experts together in a common environment to improve collaborative decision making during regular and irregular operations. Guidance on how to plan and design for these centers is needed.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Many airports historically operate with various disciplines and stakeholders working in silos spread throughout the airport campus. More than 20 years ago the Emergency Operation Center became a focus for airports to bring various subject matter experts together to work face to face during a large-scale event or disruption to airport operations. The benefit of bringing various disciplines together in the EOC usually results in better information sharing, situational awareness, and better decisions to help reduce the impacts and improve efficiencies when responding to large scale events. This type of collaboration center is usually only activated during certain large-scale events or for training such as the annual tabletop and triennial drill.

On a daily basis many airports have some type of communication center/dispatch, airfield operations, maintenance, and post 911 security operations centers. Some of these centers are combined some are not, however airports are beginning to realize the benefit of having subject matter experts working together on a daily or semi-daily as needed basis to improve collaborative decision making for regular and irregular operations (IROPS).

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

A Guidebook on how to develop the business plan for why and how a center will operate including concept planning to understand how to right size the center based on staffing needs and future growth. Airports will understand how to choose the best geographic area and decide if the center needs to be a greenfield or repurposed space. Airports will have tools for how to identify threats and vulnerabilities to facilities ensuring sustainability. Airports will gain a better understanding of the importance of coordination and collaboration of not only their staff but inclusive of external stakeholders working together on a regular basis sharing data and problem solving. Airports will have a better understanding about the importance of change management and communication plans when adopting any new business model. Airports will understand the importance of data, what they need, why they need it and how to apply it to realize identified key performance indicators (KPIs) and become more predictive in the day-to-day management of their airport.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Research current airport centers either in operation or the planning stage as well as non-aviation coordination centers to develop a best practices and lessons learned matrix. This should include at least two examples from Canadian and/or European airport models where these multi-discipline centers are more common than U.S. airports.

The guidebook will help airports develop a concept plan for the center including a roadmap template to help develop the business model. A decision tree will be developed to help guide airports to understand the criteria needed to determine the right sized space for opening day staff and future growth. Guidance on best practices for choosing the right location for the center including tools on conducting threat and vulnerability analysis to ensure sustainability. Once these initial tools are developed, they could be put through a theoretic practice as use-cases. Each use-case would include representation from a volunteer airport representing each small, medium and large sized airports. This will enable feedback on the tools. Guidance on best practices for room layouts, inclusive of human factors and ergonomics recommendations and staffing model recommendations based on emphasizing collaborative decision making will be developed. Lastly but very important will be recommendations for technology support. Data is key for the success of these centers. This section will include tools to help develop KPIs as well as the technology solutions (vendor agnostic) to obtain the data needed to baseline and measure the KPIs. The right data and KPIs can help an airport anticipate IROPS and become less reactionary to systemic issues and more predictive resulting in improved responses and enhance passenger experience.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)


There is a fair amount of research to be done including non-airport collaboration centers and at least two international centers to gather best practices and lessons learned.

The use cases will involve travel to three of the volunteer airports

There are several subject matter experts needed for the development of content for business planning, threat and vulnerability, human factors and ergonomics and technology to name a few.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

Many of the linked research shows silos related to a coordination center. The research for this project would address many of the previous ideas together cohesively or addresses the issue as inclusion into the concept.



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Idea No. 709