ICAO’s Big Data Analysis


T raffic and operational big data sets, when queried holistically with data in the ICAO Enterprise Data Management (EDM) repository, create analytical opportunities that were not previously available. ICAO is partnering with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computational and Mathematical Modelling (ICM) of the University of Warsaw in its Air Transport Diagnostics Project (ATD). This project uses the connectivity big data to map the airport nodes through the direct and connecting true origin-destination passenger traffic flows with market size, price and other factors that promote or constrain the most optimal direct or indirect air transport connectivity.

The comprehensive results of this project will be visualized using big data analytics through a web application and will facilitate informed decision making by Member States to optimize connectivity and obtain incremental economic benefits from the enhanced connectivity.

This application will also provide decision support systems for aviation stakeholders that will facilitate their needs in several areas, for example, fleet planning, route profitability, forecasting, benchmarking, concessionaire development and identifying gaps in the requirements of licensed personnel.

ICAO Civil Aviation Data Solutions (iCADS)

The applications developed using big data have recently been made available through the ICAO Civil Aviation Data Solutions (iCADS) platform here. Information about this new platform was disseminated widely to Member States and aviation stakeholders at the end of 2018. The ICM-ICAO collaboration also extends to Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data analytics, ranging from monitoring the safety of operations, the use of Performance-based Navigation (PBN) routes and generating economic and environmental indicators from the use or otherwise of appropriate navigational routes.

The ADS-B data will also be used to supplement the ICAO Air Transport Monthly Monitor Data in real-time and will help Member States and stakeholders to see the changes in capacity offered both for passenger and all freighter operations. All freighter operations by mode of air transport are considered to be a key barometer of global economic activity.

The ICM–ICAO analysis using ADS-B tracks will also support the on-going performance improvement initiatives under the Aviation Systems Block Upgrade (ASBU) framework. ICAO, as the custodial agency for monitoring progress towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) Goal 9 – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, through the indicator –Passenger and Freight Volumes by Mode of Transport uses Big Data to report the progress of States towards this goal.

Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce 

Concerning e-commerce, ICAO and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), under the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), have been using each other’s e-commerce and traffic carried by airmail big data to determine trends and to forecast the growth of different categories of e-commerce carried by postal authorities using air transport. These trends and forecasts have played a significant role in highlighting the important role of civil air transport in the carriage of business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce parcels. As well, ICAO and the UPU are currently working on a study using big data to identify and report on the logistical constraints to the growth of e-commerce.

The technology used to process, store and analyse big data is different from that used in traditional data processing and storage of data. ICAO is using Hadoop, an open-source Java-based programming framework that supports the processing and storage of extremely large data sets in a distributed computing environment.
Looking forward, the use of ICAO big data applications is expected to play an important role in the effective and appropriate implementation of projects related to achieving ICAO strategic objectives, thus ensuring the sustainable growth of air transport.

ICAO’s Technical Cooperation (TCB) Programme provides advice and assistance in the development and implementation of projects across the full spectrum of civil aviation aimed at the safety, security, environmental protection and sustainable development of national and international civil aviation. The Programme is conducted under the broad policy guidance of the ICAO Assembly and of the Council. Subject to general guidance by the Secretary General, the Technical Cooperation Programme is executed by the Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB).
As part of ICAO, a non-profit organization, TCB can offer its services through cost-effective conditions and guarantees strict neutrality, objectivity and transparency, as it does not represent any particular national or commercial interest, nor the interest of any donor in general. Its advice is therefore governed by objective technical and financial considerations.
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