We travelled recently to Sundsvall (mid Sweden) for a meeting of the SPARA2020 project. SPARA aims to address a number of issues facing rural and remote airports, including technical and design considerations.
As part of the trip, our colleagues Dr Graeme Baxter and Lyndsey Bloice ran a photo exhibition tracing the history of Sundsvall Airport, which aimed to encourage discussions of people’s memories of the airport, and their feelings about how it coul ddevelop in the future. The exhibition generated considerable interest and will be followed by future and similar exhibitions in other partner towns. It has been interesting to see how the use of historical photographs has been a really potent way to elicit discussion, and follows similar studies by the team elsewhere, and concerning subjects including both airports and historical high streets.
Of particular interest from a visualisation perspective was a demonstration of the innovative developments at Sundsvall regarding the use of HD video and computer-mediated interfaces to improve air traffic control. We were lucky to receive a demonstration of the system from Mikael Henriksson of LFV, who explained about the use of HD screens to provide a 360 degree view (across 180 degrees!) of the airport, including the ability to overlay augmented information.
It was interesting to hear about the need to plan for and manage change among the highly skilled ATC team, as the shift from analogue to digital came with both opportunities and challenges. This resonated with experiences in architecture, where the march towards BIM adoption has required a close consideration of how working practice and outcomes can be challenged where there is a rapid move towards the use of ICT.
Our first day of the meeting proper also included a presentation from Professor David Gray, Dr Elizabeth Tait and I, on the subject of how airports can be designed to better reflect local culture, and avoid becoming ‘non-places‘.
Complete with jokes about Elvis, we will surely have to incorporate singing and dancing at future events to top this one.🙂