Digital Transformation

Dublin Airport Terminals Indoor Mapping Project

In 2019 Dublin Airport welcomed 31.9m passengers to the airport, making it the busiest year on record before Covid hit.

Given the rapid growth in Airport users, DAA decided to embark on a project to digitally map the Dublin Airport Campus.  The primary goal of this project was to create an accurate digital representation of Dublin Airport that could provide a solid foundation for a public facing app that includes up to date flight information, quickest routing options through the terminals to the correct gate and the location of food, beverages, and shopping outlets.

Apart from the public facing app the mapping information collected has several important applications:

  • Mapping and Servicing Airport Assets.
  • Building a Space Management App for leasing purposes used by the Commercial Property Department.
  • Future Development – An FME workspace was developed to export multiple file formats (DWG, SHP(ITM/WGS), CSV) with map updates and information back to CAD.

The Challenge:

DAA did not have a seamless map of their extensive campus and terminals, other than a series of CAD drawings that were not up to date and were without a consistent format or layout.  A decision was taken to start from scratch and redraw the entire campus manually.  A mammoth task for sure!

Airport Terminals Indoor Mapping CAD Drawing example.
(An original CAD Drawing Example)

Redrawing Dublin Airport:

Over 8,000 rooms across Dublin Airport’s campus had to be redrawn over a period of approx. 7 months.  All the individual rooms had to be renumbered, as this was not done in previous CAD drawings.  The redraws were conducted with Auto CAD to produce Architectural Grids and then georeferenced in ING.

Dublin Airport redrawn map with room numbers included
(Redrawn map with room numbers included)

The DAA GIS Department built an FME Workspace which was used to transfer the CAD drawings into the GIS format.  Apart from geometry transfers it also assigned attributes from attribute blocks, which encompassed the second part of the Georeferencing process from ING to ITM.

The FME workflow saved at least 1 hr per level during the transfer process.

“FME is at the core of all our spatial data interactions at Dublin Airport. It has allowed us to automate, validate and distribute both spatial & non-spatial data across our organisation. With our recent move to an FME Airport Subscription, we can now easily scale on demand to address broader use cases that require data streaming and the use of dynamic engines. ” – Morgan Crumlish, Spatial Data Systems Manager, Dublin Airport.


Dublin Airport FME Workflow
(FME Workflow)

Apple Maps:

Once the re-drawing was complete, DAA moved to the next stage of the process which was to convert GIS files to IMDF (Indoor Mapping Data Format) for Apple devices. 

Dublin Airport GIS to IMDF

The conversion to IMDF for Apple, required another manual redrawing of the campus but thankfully this was a much quicker process and finished within a 4 week period.

Once created, the IMDF files needed to be validated by one of the following validation tools:

  • FME Online Validation Tool
  • Apple IMDF Sandbox

In order, to leverage the Apple Maps “blue dot” indoor positioning system (IPS), the entire airport had to be surveyed via a mobile survey app.  This survey involved taking snapshots of each area every 5-10 metres to map the wi-fi signal patterns in Dublin Airport.

(IMDF Validation Report)

The Dublin Airport Mapping App:

With the Dublin Airport Mapping App passengers, can navigate the airport using their Apple devices.  Like any navigation system, the app drops a pin on the destination, shows the visitor’s current location, and then creates a route. If a visitor is on their way to a boarding gate, the app’s indoor navigation shows the route between floors and estimates the time it will take to get there.

For android users, the airport map is embedded in the Dublin airport website and can be found there, but without the Apple “blue dot” functionality.

Future Plans:

DAA plan to use BIM in the future rather than CAD, which will remove the need for manual redraws.  This has already been tested with FME workspace without any issues.

About DAA:

DAA’s principal activities include the operation and management of Dublin and Cork Airports, global airport retailing with its subsidiary ARI, and international aviation consultancy with DAA International.  The Company is State-owned and headquartered at Dublin Airport.  The Group’s core purpose is to connect Ireland with the word and its vision to be an airport industry leader.