Using data to stay one step ahead: The predictive power of Wilbur

Schiphol’s aim is to give travellers the most comfortable journey possible. On busy days, around 200,000 travellers pass through the airport. Because we know that one of their biggest frustrations on days like that is the long queue at security, Schiphol is always looking for solutions to these issues. Although the available physical space imposes its own limitations, Schiphol is exploring smart solutions based on technology and data. One of those smart solutions is Wilbur: a link that connects internal and external data sources to give Schiphol Airport Control’s Inspection Officers greater control over airport operations.

Real-time support and predictions up to 4 hours into the future

Wilbur is named after the pioneer of civil aviation, Wilbur Wright, and the platform shares his gift for foresight. The data Wilbur collects and organises helps Schiphol predict an increasing range of airport processes up to four hours in advance. Sensors collect data on aspects such as the temperature and the number of people at a given location, giving Schiphol Airport Control a real-time understanding of how busy the terminal is and making sure staff members can be deployed where they are needed most. All the agencies that cooperate at Schiphol work on the basis of ‘data truth’, and we make sure they get the support they need to take data-driven decisions. Wilbur is being developed in-house at Schiphol.

Data-driven schedules

A new feature in Wilbur is the Security tab, where Wilbur makes recommendations to enable the Operational Capacity Managers in the Security Control Centre to proactively schedule the filters and security lanes. Wilbur generates prognoses for the number of teams and open lanes that will be needed, based on data from previous periods and the current situation on the ground.

Until recently, this schedule was based on visual observations from camera footage, as well as on staff’s experience and intuition. Thanks to Wilbur’s new security screen, these scheduling decisions are now more data driven. Our capacity can be used more effectively, which means both shorter queues for travellers and lower costs for the airport.

An overview of the benefits Wilbur brings

  • A clear view of traveller flows
  • Real-time data on aspects such as the temperature and the number of people at a given location
  • Predictions up to 4 hours ahead and the chance to adjust processes
  • Recommendations about the most effective use of the airport’s capacity

Watch this video to see how Wilbur is helping Schiphol