How Heathrow Airport clears emerging technologies for take-off

heathrow2July was the busiest month ever at London’s Heathrow Airport: almost seven million travelers arrived and departed Europe’s travel hub. And one of the people responsible for making sure Heathrow runs smoothly — and constantly improves upon the passenger experience — is Richard Harding, the Head of IT Strategy and Innovation.

Harding says that in late 2012, he was asked by Heathrow’s Chief Technology Officer set up an innovation function. One big goal: to evaluate and test emerging technologies. “Heathrow has a rich history of innovation,” he says. “But we tend to do very large engineering innovation, and we felt we were missing out on digital and emerging technologies. We’re world-class at laying concrete and building terminals, but with all of governance and regulatory environment being based on a five-year planning cycle, innovation needed a different approach.”

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