Brenna Berman, commissioner and CIO of Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT); Andrew Kemmetmueller, VP – Connected Aircraft, Gogo; and Don DeLoach, CEO, Infobright, sit together to discuss the importance of Internet of Things (IoT) in the aviation industry at the Techweek Chicago Summit 2016.

According to reports from Gartner, there will be 25 billion connected things in use by 2020. In fact, 37 percent of airlines have already allocated a budget for IoT implementation. IoT in the airline sector offers multiple opportunities to improve operational efficiency and increase personalization for passengers. Apart from the aviation industry, the panelists feel IoT can be deployed to build smart cities through well-connected government with startups and corporations.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. IoT is Disruptive for the Aviation Industry but Remains a Challenge:
    Andrew points out that to this day, most airlines use 20-to-30-year-old technologies that make operations cumbersome. IoT is essential for this sector to connect airplanes. However, with real-time connectivity, there can be certain challenges such as determining how planes can fly in airspace, how people can change or move their traffic patterns, and how to make airplanes’ operations safer.
  2. City Government’s Take on IoT and Aviation:
    Brenna solely focuses on IoT innovation in Chicago. She feels IoT, as a system of interrelated devices, has the potential to alleviate some of the main pain points of a passenger’s journey, namely luggage handling and connecting between flights. IoT can be easily deployed in airports as they are closed environments. Moreover, IoT allows passengers to make better-informed decisions within the airport, as the Department of Aviation has partnered with many contractors present there. To Brenna, “Airports are like malls, each dollar spent here has a direct impact on the concession contract made for the airports.”
  3. Open Smart Grid Platform is based on IoT to Address Public Data in Chicago:
    Public data is available on Chicago’s data portal. The Open Smart Grid Platform is an IoT-based open source platform that allows residents to look at a map of the city and find out what is going on in that geography by adding data maintained by city authorities.
  4. IoT can Contemplate a Much Larger Ecosystem:
    Don feels that sensor-based IoT collected data becomes beneficial if we can “separate the creation of data from the consumption of data.” Data is constantly generated in airplanes through numerous sensors placed in them. This data gets propagated to multiple constituencies and is interpreted in the context of other information. Hence, proper segregation and aggregation of data are critical.
  5. IoT is Often Questioned on Privacy and Security Issues:
    The private information of citizens needs to be dealt with carefully. Andrew shares that at Gogo they give utmost importance to data ownership for data encryption and security. Don further points out that the access points of networks are also vulnerable to a certain extent while dealing with customer data. This, in turn, provides opportunities to hackers.
  6. Business Perspective of Data and Sensors as They Allow to Add Revenue:
    According to Andrew, operations in airlines can be dependent on IoT as it can optimize aircrafts flying through airspace with a check on fuel and time consumption. IoT investments will allow flourishing growth of smart cities and healthcare sector. Smart parking systems, which is already in use, can lead to huge savings by reducing congestion on roads. IoT needs to bring in more innovative ideas so that its reach extends for adoption in future companies.
  7. Areas Where IoT Has Not Yet Reached:
    Brenna believes that Open Grid allows residents of Chicago to know their community deeply. But IoT is yet to track city operations like the water system, underground infrastructure, congestion level, and rates of urban asthma. Chicago is in the process of deploying 500 sensors throughout the city.
  8. Implementing IoT in Different Spheres is Not Easy:
    Security parameters are often neglected while implementing IoT for different purposes. Product manufacturers are often rewarded for their product functionalities, but security is overlooked in it. Ownership of IoT projects keeps on changing as per the domain. In the aviation sector, Gogo focuses more on research and development and wants to make connections to the aircrafts and the internet faster. However, competitor Boeing looks more into its sensor-centric information and its utilization.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:09 – Panel moderator introduced hot topic of IoT
  • 1:20 – Panelists introduced themselves and their roles at their respective companies
  • 3:21 – IoT is important for the aviation industry as many airlines are still using old technologies
  • 6:24 – IoT and other connected advanced technologies are getting implemented at the city airports to help passengers
  • 9:44 – Public data of Chicago is present in city data portal with 600 data sets
  • 16:06 – Privacy and security issues around IoT need to be dealt with
  • 22:03 – IoT allows maintenance of costs in aircrafts and adds revenues as well
  • 24:37 – IoT is in the way to make Chicago a smart city through improvements in healthcare, parking, and will allow change in business models
  • 30:54 – Chicago citizens need to understand the importance of the 500 sensors that the government will introduce to increase the reach of IoT
  • 31:54 – The speakers shared their opinions on the initial hurdles for implementing IoT


Brenna Berman
commissioner and CIO of Chicago
Andrew Kemmetmueller
VP – Connected Aircraft, Gogo
Don DeLoach
CEO, Infobright