Perth Airport is flying high after becoming Australia's first airport to introduce an enterprise-wide Geographic Information System (GIS), thanks to a landmark partnership with the nation's leading location intelligence specialists Esri Australia.

More than four years in the making, the visionary development has put Westralia Airports Corporation (WAC) – which operates the airport – on track to meet a projected growth in passenger numbers from 10.4 million to 18.9 million by 2029.

Esri Australia’s WA Business Manager Tom Gardner said the centralised GIS would play a crucial role in WAC’s plans to develop the airport into a major commercial and industrial centre.

“The airport estate covers around 2100 hectares, which includes areas used in the airport’s operation and others set aside for the future development of infrastructure and services,” Mr Gardner said.

“Understanding the properties of any areas slated for development is critical and GIS technology is an essential component of that.

“Esri Australia’s sophisticated mapping technology has an intuitive interface that allows users to switch on and off layers of information that are relevant to a particular location.

“Users can see what type of underground cables, services or networks are there; whether there are any environmental or heritage limitations; or, they can assess soil types, topography and many other constraints to development.

“This helps WAC to better manage competing land uses and streamline development approval processes, which in turn enables smooth and effective planning for future growth.”

While many Australian airports currently use GIS to manage specific tasks, Perth Airport is the first to extend the technology throughout its entire enterprise.

Mr Gardner said this had resulted in speedy and convenient access to up-to-date, accurate spatial information.

“The sheer size of Perth Airport can make spatially-based monitoring and information gathering, such as keeping track of the location of assets, a very complex and problematic task,” Mr Gardner said.

“In the past there was only one department which attended to all spatial enquiries using processes that involved paper-based maps or very rudimentary GIS.

“This was very time-consuming, laborious and led to lags in updating important geographic data.

“The advantage of Esri Australia’s enterprise-wide GIS lies in the fact that everybody has easy access to the same information – from the maintenance crew to the CEO – with no questions about the information’s integrity or accuracy.

“Also, the ability to discern patterns in information containing a geographic element is one that is innate, meaning employees require little to no training before using the GIS.”

Mr Gardner said the sky was the limit for the Perth Airport GIS as it headed into an era of unprecedented growth.

“WAC faces some enormous challenges due simply to the pace at which Western Australia is growing and the resulting demands on all kinds of transport infrastructure,” Mr Gardner said.

“It’s fitting then that in the nation’s largest state, with the fastest growing population, there is an airport that has had the foresight to adopt a complete, enterprise-wide location intelligence solution.

“Now WAC can get on with the task of developing Perth Airport to meet those challenges and demands, knowing their GIS is the best integrated in the business.”

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