Prague Airport Portal: an example of a web integration project
I would like to show the basic principles of web integration in practice, in the set-up and management of a website portal from the point of view of the Web Integrator.
Lundegaard created the Prague Václav Havel Airport Portal in 2010 and has been managing it since then. The web portal of an institution like the airport, which is used by over 10 million passengers annually, requires constant care and attention. In addition, new features are always being added.
We used web integration principles when setting up the portal and in the development stage that followed.
Basic elements of the portal
Seen from the web integration perspective, the Prague Airport Portal is a typical portal, which
- provides centralised access to information otherwise stored on a decentralised basis, i.e. internal and external data sources are integrated;
- offers the possiblity of personalising content for target groups of users (B2B sections, etc.);
- offers users an active interactive approach, with the option to respond to part of their requests directly (flight finder, booking excursions, etc.);
- is built on a powerful full-text search core, which is able to include all information sources;
- uses a powerful operationing platform, enabling full operation and development of the portal. The platform provides the tools for easy, decentralised management;
- supports various client platforms (multichannel communication) and can change data in a structured format;
- Uses an appropriate type of information architecture, which supports the goals for the portal and enables nformation to be presented in a user-friendly and easy-to-follow manner.
Web integration activities
As part of our work on the project, we carried out the following activities forming basic aspects of web integration.
Preparation and project coordination aspects
A particular feature of the project was the selection process by tender. It was called when the basic part of the project design was ready, as part of the acquisition process and without client consultation. Despite such an arrangement, we created a project, containing both an analytical and conceptual part and, in view of the technological platform use, a specification for implementation. As a result, it was rather an “all in one“ solution, and the project documentation therefore contained the following basic elements:
- A description of the user groups,
- Information architecture design,
- A description of the functional components,
- A description of the integration links.
eCommerce, marketing and communications aspects
The portal was designed to gradually incorporate a feature for selling Prague Airport services. Information for airlines and companies leasing space at the airport, is also offered on the portal, which now also enables services to be provided, such as excursion booking, parking, accomodation, purchase of flight tickets and payment of airport taxes to airlines.
Visitor levels are regularly monitored and evaluated using Google Analytics.
During the development and expansion stage, great emphasis was placed on-site SEO factors, and they were constantly monitored, with the help of Google Webmaster Tools.
User interface aspects
In terms of the graphic design of the portal, an external agency, which has been working with the airport on a long-term basis, was chosen. Our task was to discuss the manufacturability and subsequent adapation of the final layout, which would gradually be extended to cover other equipment for the client, such as mobile telephones and smart kiosks.
The portal currently operates in Czech, English and Russian.
Development, technical and operational aspects.
CMS LARS Vivo was chosen as the development platform and publication system, and is built on LAMP technologies.
What makes distinguishes the portal is its operational demands. A high level of accessibility is a given, but huge increases in visitor levels occur when exceptional situations arise, which has an impact on flights (strikes, volcanic eruptions, etc.). In such cases the increase exceeds capacity severalfold, and we therefore devised a solution based on clustered “high-availability“ operational architecture, which, making use of intelligent caches, provides sufficient capacity when spikes in visitor numbers occur. On the other hand, this solution does not restrict portal operation in normal situations.
The development process included the addition of several functionally specific parts:
- Excursion booking, including administrative module in CMS LARS Vivo, for managing excursion offers and registration;
- Parking fee calculator;
- Airport tax calculator.
The portal is linked to several external and internal sources, and provides information to other parties.
- External data sources
- Air ticket reservations, linked to the letuska.cz on-line reservation system,
- Booking of accommodation, with a link to the the booking.com accommodation reservation website,
- OpenX banner system,
- Display of up-to-date weather information from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute,
- Integration of the airport map provided by a third party,
- Data transfer for native mobile applications, using the VXF CMS LARS Vivo. Integration interface.
- Internal data sources and connection
- Webcam showing images of selected places at the airport,
- Energo portal with information about energy consumption, for companies leasing space at the airport,
- Parking booking,
- Excursion booking, for individuals and groups,
- Departure and arrival information displays, including connection to company’s internal systems,
- Booking of VIP services with connection to the airport’s internal system,
- Extensive B2B section for the airport’s partner companies.
- Portal components
- Interactive kiosks,
- Warning messages.
Prague Airport Portal diagram
The diagram shows a breakdown of the portal integration links into external and internal systems The central section shows the website itself and its main functional parts.
The Prague Václav Havel Airport Portal is a typical example of a project in which a web integrator played a key role, both at the development stage and in the subsequent management and development.
Learn about the client’s perspective on the project in this article by Ondřej Kňava.