Aviation IT conferences and data standards forums are not really the kind of events to get the average person excited. However, for fellow data nerds and me the ATA eBusiness & S1000D User Forum in San Antonio last week was like something from a geek’s dream. Not only did I get the chance to meet and debate the hot topics with like minded individuals in sunny San Antonio, Texas, and show off our latest wares, but I got to meet geek demi-god, Brent Spiner, better known as Data from Star Trek – The Next Generation.
Meetings about data standards can often be turgid affairs where the most scintillating conversation is an argument about whether a specific data requirement belongs as an attribute or as an element. Not so in San Antonio. The focus was very much on demonstrating products and business case studies where the standards have been put into practice and examples of emerging technology that will challenge developers preparing for the future.
Without question the hottest topic for discussion and interest was mobility.
Several of the presentations across three tracks focused on mobile solutions. Yours truly and my colleague Tim Larson not only demonstrated our current CORENA Suite mobility products, but both of us had the chance to reveal a tantalizing first glimpse at a couple of our next-generation mobile capabilities.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a conference on data standards, the common requirement for many delegates seeking mobile solutions was one of device and platform agnosticism. In the airline world — where administrators and technologists are trying to satisfy the needs of many user groups and differing use cases — they are seeking solution providers who can offer mobile solutions that are compatible with all available devices.
This requirement gets to the heart of the requirement for data standards. The S1000D and ATA Spec 2000 standards that were the focus of the conference in San Antonio help to ensure that data can be exchanged efficiently and accurately, not only between stake holders in the lifecycle of technical content, such as OEMs, airlines and MRO providers, but those same standards are employed by Flatirons Solutions to ensure the same efficiencies and accuracies between back-office systems and the various mobile devices now commonly being employed.
The work that has been carried out by the standards bodies such as A4A, IATA and ASD has helped to make the first generation of mobility adoption as ubiquitous as it is today. Seeing a pilot with an iPad or a line mechanic with an Android tablet is a common sight in airports all around the world, but what is clear is that there still remains a lot of work to keep up with the requirements for enterprise mobility adoption.
Electronic signatures, biometrics, geo-location meta data, and 3D drawings were all topics of discussion that our crew of thought leaders demonstrated considerable expertise on. Now the challenge for our team and for the standards bodies is to boldly go and help ensure such future visions become a reality for the next generation. As Mr. Data always did, let’s make it so.