By the time an aeroplane lands at Helsinki Airport, a lot of important data will already have been exchanged by various parties. For example, the airport will have received information on the number of passengers and the amount of cargo on board, while the baggage transfer system will know which items of luggage to send to the carousel and which to redirect to connecting flights.
“Our day-to-day work is largely based on exchanging information with external parties,” says Mikko Ollila, Finavia’s Head of Data.
Finavia develops and maintains Finland’s 21 airports and the country’s air traffic infrastructure. Functional system integrations and interfaces are a crucial factor in ensuring smooth air traffic. Information needs to flow between Finavia and the airlines, but it must also be exchanged with parties such as ANS Finland, which is responsible for air navigation services, in order for aeroplanes to land on time without queuing.
“Integrations are vital to us: the impacts are very real if things do not function correctly,” says Ollila.
A critical entity requires a reliable partner
Digia provides Finavia with the Digital Enabler service, which includes the development and maintenance of integrations and APIs, architecture work, and container orchestration and cloud services – core architectural components. Finavia is also covered by Digia’s Service Center, which provides 24/7 service and monitoring.
In addition to ongoing maintenance and development work, Finavia is modernising its integration platform.
“We endeavour to continuously develop our operations and deploy solutions that make our work processes and data flow as smooth as possible,” says Ollila.
However, transferring all of the integrations onto the new platform is a relatively long-term project, so Digia’s work also includes developing and improving the reliability of the existing integration platforms. In cases like these, the partner must have broad-ranging expertise. According to Ollila, Finavia has always been able to rely on Digia’s expertise.
“We have never faced a situation that Digia was unable to deal with. They have done a lot of proactive work to enhance the reliability of the integration platform, and they have suggested the improvements we should consider next.”
Factors such as monitoring of the integration platform and automatic alerts have enhanced reliability by enabling proactive responses to incidents before any problems can arise. At the same time, any disruptions can be investigated more quickly.
Interfaces facilitate data exchange
In addition to integrations, interfaces (APIs) are a crucial component of Finavia’s data exchange. Finavia makes use of interfaces in its internal integrations, and it also publishes them for partners. In cases like this, the various different data use cases (such as event streaming) and authorisation become important aspects.
“When we share information with our partners, we must be sure that each party only receives the data intended for them. In that sense, we are not talking about open interfaces, as they are controlled very strictly,” Ollila says.
Finavia also offers open interfaces, which anyone can use to receive information about flights or matters such as the queuing times at security control. Finavia is also open to new ideas, subject to certain criteria.
“Due to the critical nature of the operating environment, we must carefully consider what can be shared and what cannot,” Ollila says.
Openness and trust are the cornerstones of successful cooperation
Ollila says that Finavia and Digia have worked very well together. He says that the enablers of cooperation are trust and openness. When there is open, fluent communication between partners, their collaboration is also more effective.
“One factor in building trust is that Digia genuinely thought hard about who were the right people to have in the team. And of course how they do things. When I began working at Finavia, I was in an active role when the integration platform suffered some disruption. Now, whenever an incident is reported, unless it is something entirely unprecedented, I know that it will be taken care of without requiring any intervention,” Ollila says.