IT AND DIGITISATION
The need for digitisation of the airport experience and our operational working environment was emphasised by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the accelerated adoption of contactless travel and a flexible, digitally enabled working environment. Our existing strategy and digital infrastructure put in place in FY2019/20 put us in good stead to manage the challenges experienced in FY2020/21.
The key objectives of our digital strategy included adopting and leveraging appropriate technology to enhance operational efficiency and customer experience while protecting our information and systems. The year under review reaffirmed we must persist in our aim of supporting the technology needs of different parts of the organisation to enable value retention and creation. In achieving this, we have committed to building a trusted partnership to integrate and streamline our technological operations and optimise our ability to scale technology.
Our digital roadmap included R1.2 billion in digital capital expenditure over five years. Of the R132 million allocation for FY2020/21, R69 million was utilised for digital capital expenditure, while R63 million was reallocated to the Western precinct to manage costs across the organisation.
In managing the impact of the reduced capital expenditure, we honoured our commitments in existing projects and in projects where tenders had already been awarded and signed. Beyond these commitments, we prioritised urgent and high-impact projects.
Projects that were implemented include:
- The Airports Company South Africa application upgrade project – in funding and business case stage
- Flight information display systems at Cape Town International Airport and O.R. Tambo International Airport – phase 1 complete
- Automated border control solution – implemented as Cape Town International Airport
- Queue management systems – complete
- Risk incident logging and management system – phase 1 in user acceptance testing
Self-service solutions to reduce contact
Our airports had self-scanning capabilities in place before the onset of COVID-19. In the year under review, however, we saw an increase in adoption and increased demand for a further reduction in contact throughout our operations. Our automated border control solution at Cape Town International Airport supported contactless security screening. Smart lane is also in operation in the international terminal in O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Most of our employees had the necessary systems at their disposal to work from home when the lockdown was announced. In FY2019/20, we rolled out Microsoft 365 across our operations and in this financial year, we focused on training that supported the adoption. In addition, we introduced Adobe’s digital signature to complement existing systems.
Our IT service desk is fully operational online and has been outsourced to a third party which reduced operational costs and optimised the service provided.
Through a service portal, employees can request IT equipment and services, stay informed with regard to the status of their logged tickets and engage with the service desk.
This year, the Group faced several budgetary constraints, leading to the cancellation of programmes to further develop our IT security maturity. To mitigate the impact of this, we have continued to embed existing controls and solutions throughout our operations. While our IT system remains secure, we will prioritise these initiatives and explore savings in other areas to fund our IT security journey as the sector develops. It is important to note that low IT security system maturity does not expose passengers to any risks since we do not keep passenger information.
Although we planned to prioritise the opening of our Cybersecurity Operations Centre in FY2020/21, we were unable to operationalise it owing to budgetary constraints. Once funds become available, we will resume our plans to strengthen our cybersecurity controls and be proactive in our response to and remediation of cybersecurity events and logs.
Information and cybersecurity awareness sessions across all our airports have reached a completion rate of 85% (FY2019/20: 70%). In the year under review, we did not record any significant cybersecurity incidents.
In previous years, we were able to implement several business intelligence projects in various business units to track performance as part of our business intelligence strategy. This year, however, we have engaged external stakeholder to gain third-party funding. An example of this is our request for funding from a leader in software development to run a proof-of-concept programme around parking management to increase efficiencies.
In FY2020/21, we successfully implemented a radio network at George Airport. All our airports now have a radio frequency spectrum licence, issued by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) which covers a 10-kilometre radius around our airports. The radio network facilitates communication between our staff and with other stakeholders within this area.
As all parts of the business have been affected by costreduction initiatives, we must engage with stakeholders to execute innovative IT and digitisation initiatives through collaboration. These engagements have the potential to result in collaborative public-private partnerships.