Airport Information Model

Having a detailed understanding of the physical structure of a building plays a fundamental role in initial building design and subsequent re-design, as well as managing the building throughout its life cycle.  This information extends beyond a 3-dimensional representation of the building, allowing support for light and energy analysis, and storage of building materials and their properties.  This type of information system can be likened to a database in a 3D spatial environment, and is referred to as a Building Information Model (BIM).  In the airport environment, there are a wide range of (typically independent) information systems in simultaneous operation.  An effective BIM in the airport environment would be able to integrate all these knowledge sources and provide appropriate visualisation to assist operational and planning activities.

Apart from day-to-day operations, and planning for terminal upgrades, airport operators and other industry stakeholders are mindful of the terrorist threat constantly posed to terminals.  The car bomb attack on Glasgow Airport on June 30, 2007 demonstrated this threat, and highlighted the need for sophisticated modelling of blast effects in airport spaces.  Having a truly 3-dimensional visualisation of the airport terminal and information about the underlying building materials can enable blast assessments to be made quickly and accurately by terminal designers and emergency responders.

Research Aims

The Airport Information Model (AIM) is an extension of the BIM which is specialised to an airport context.  The envisaged AIM aims to integrate information systems concerning all aspects of airport operations management, asset management, and airport design and planning into a common platform.  Alongside this collation of information will be mechanisms by which the model can be manipulated, queried and visualised.

Such a tool would enable support for airport operations including alerting and assisting in emergency response scenarios, support for airport performance monitoring, and synthesis of surveillance data feeds and related analytic capabilities.  The AIM could also be integrated with a federated identity and access management system which will ensure that data and physical areas of the terminal are accessible only by authorised users.

The AIM also aims to integrate damage assessment tools for bomb responders and security planners to determine probable effects of explosive devices inside airport passenger buildings and identify structural vulnerabilities.  The tool will be designed to consider a range of variables including type of explosive, fragmentation effects caused by the device, as well as the effect of the airport environment.

Research Approach

This research will initially develop 3D models of airport structures, and utilise database and information technology (with security-specific data structures) to manage information across people, process and technology domains within the 3D visualisation environment.  This will be undertaken with an emphasis on compatibility with existing simulation and information systems in use in Australian airports.   In conjunction with model development and in close consultation with industry stakeholders and the other research programs, the research team will identify the current and future informational requirements of all airport stakeholders, from both perspectives of operations management and terminal design.

In parallel, existing blast modelling software developed at the University of Melbourne will be customised for airport security applications.  This blast modelling tool will be integrated with the AIM to produce a 3D database and associated visualisation for first responders to view the estimated damage from an explosive device.

Research Team

  • Professor Robin Drogemuller (Chief Investigator – Airport Information Model)
  • Professor Priyan Mendis (Chief Investigator – Blast Modelling) – University of Melbourne
  • Dr. James Steel
  • Dr. Tuan Duc Ngo (University of Melbourne)
  • Sarah Shuchi (PhD student)
  • Al Brennan (Research Assistant)