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API Management 3 min

How open APIs might just make Schiphol the world’s coolest airport

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
500 msp 2471
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Open API platform maakt Schiphol tot coolste vliegveld ooit.jpgEver tried counting all the developers in the world? We tried, but we got bored and gave up. There’s just too many of them! Researchers with a lot of free time and a lack of fulfilling jobs say the world has around 30 million skilled IT professionals, including 18,5 million professional and amateur developers. This means that an organization with an average team of 10 developers can only do so much compared to the rest of the world. So why not involve them all?

The basic principles of open APIs

Today’s most successful businesses don’t focus on IT teams that know it all; instead they find ways to include as many brilliant minds as possible. Those minds can be found all around the world, in small attic rooms, start-ups, and within multinationals. Now that APIs successfully connect internal systems to the outside world, there’s an infrastructure available to enable such collaboration. Whereas most APIs are generally used to send information to the organization fast and safely, so-called open APIs take data integration one step further. By opening up their API platform, organizations allow access to external developers with great ideas, so they can enhance and upgrade their services. In turn, those developers benefit from the traffic to their own services.

Schiphol during peak hours

This story calls for an example. It so happens that Schiphol Airport opened up its API platform two weeks ago, so let’s stick with that one. The Dutch airport just below Amsterdam is the third busiest in Europe, processing 4500 flights per week. You can imagine the enormous amount of people and data coming in and out of the terminals every day. Not to mention the many taxis, buses and trains that take people to their next destination. Now that customer intimacy is more important than ever, Schiphol is trying hard to bring order out of chaos so their customers have a pleasant journey and know where to go and at what time. This isn’t easy, as there’re so many parties involved and so many external influences (weather conditions, strikes) to take into account.

Don’t miss your flight!

Chief Digital Officer Albert van Veen had been advocating an open API platform for a while, and this year, his hard work finally paid off. Since the seventh of March, external developers can log into the Schiphol API platform and integrate their services, improving user experience for both Schiphol customers and their own. As data can now be exchanged in real-time, the many other organizations in and around the airport can join in. TomTom, for example, will soon be able to gain real-time insights into departure times, delays and waiting times at security. It can use this information to set up a personalised travel plan for people that need to catch a plane. As TomTom keeps an eye on current local traffic conditions as well, it will send messages to the traveler like: “There’s a traffic jam on your route, leave now to catch your flight!” That’s brilliant!

Free upgrades

TomTom is not the only party involved, obviously. Taxi company Uber, several car manufacturers and public transportation companies have already shown great interest, and there’ll be many more to follow. And what about the airport itself? The IT department of Schiphol benefits from all incoming data and can make predictions about waiting lines and peak hours. They can anticipate the volume of passengers by calling in additional staff or take even more sustainable measures by restructuring departure halls and altering traffic lanes for passengers. This way, they can optimise travel comfort for all of their passengers, streamline operations and save out on costs in terms of staff. The best thing is, that they hired exactly zero people to make it happen: all help came from the outside world!

Back to you. Don’t let the greatness of Schiphol scare you. Open API platforms are a great way of doing more with less, meaning you don’t have to be Schiphol, TomTom or BMW to join the API revolution. It will bring you more than extra services, as open APIs allow you to overcome the IT delivery gap because you simply need less people to get the job done. Don’t have an API management tool yet? Not to worry. In the white paper below (which is free and awesome) we tell you how to select the right API vendor and product.