System-Wide Information Management harmonizes the exchange of Aeronautical, Flight and Weather information vital for air navigation with its stakeholders.
With the advent of time digitalization became the norm in a work environment. This change in the work environment was accepted to bring more efficiency.

Digitalization and automation

Digitalization changed the dynamics of doing work and increased data quality. In old times exchange of information was always a big challenge as data was required to be disseminated in hard form. As the digitalization era begins workers enjoyed the ease of exchange of huge piles of data with just one click.

No doubt this was a significant milestone achieved by global society as a whole. But we all know the more we spend time with someone more we get to know that person. The same was the scenario regarding digitalization. The ease of exchange of information later appeared to confront various challenging issues.

On this edge of advancement out of many challenges, a complex issue was observed related to the exchange of information. The crux of this problem was the outcome of digitalization followed by automation.

Digitization is the first step towards automation because the data has to be accessible and operatable to technology before it can be automated. For automation, various systems are working in an integrated environment. These systems acquire information from other systems and process data to generate output. But sometimes the exchange of information was obstructed. There can be several reasons assigned to it. The biggest system-based reason was the lack of interoperability between systems.

ATM Systems, proprietary solutions and interoperability

In Air Traffic Control services importance of the Air Traffic Management system, is central to its operations. There are a wide variety of applications associated with it. These applications are used for various purposes. Different interfaces are associated with these applications which become an integral part of this ATM System.

Every ATM system is vendor-specific. Every vendor will develop an ATM system based on protocols and infrastructure of their own choice. So, we can consider this as a situation where every vendor is developing an ATM system but in different silos. Now imagine different countries acquiring ATM systems from different vendors. The infrastructure and protocols utilized in it are custom designed. There is a lack of similarity in infrastructure because of which interoperability issues arise. Interoperability can be defined as the ability of various systems developed by different vendors to seamlessly exchange data when required while maintaining data quality to ensure the dissemination of the right interpretation.

The information systems in the aviation industry have usually been built independently. For instance systems for Weather, Flight Flow information, and Aeronautical Information are developed independently. Each system is designed to provide specific information or data. These systems cannot get connected and information cannot be accessed by stakeholders. Imagine all of the ATM systems working across the world. 

Connectivity and interoperability between different ATC systems working all across the world is a complex job. The complexity is raised with the requirement of having data available in a form that is easily accessible. Once data is made accessible it should also be processable so that systems can predict the information in it. Hence there is a need for an efficient information exchange model. Joining lots of systems connected and generating a complex structure will increase the cost of obtaining interoperability.

System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) to improve interoperability

System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) is a global Air Traffic Management (ATM) industry initiative. It provides guidance for the developers of Air Traffic Management regarding the infrastructure. These guidelines help the developers to adopt a universal pattern for the development of Air Traffic Management systems.ATM system providers are encouraged to utilize Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) as it is a modular programming technique.

It separates the functionality of software into different modules that work independently. All of these modules are for specific use and contain all information related to it. SOA also includes open standards and mainstream web technologies. Through the inclusion of these aspects interoperability, and seamless access to data are ensured at a significant decrease in the cost factor. To promote the global aspect of the information exchange model there is an ultimate requirement to bring uniformity. SWIM has now become a fundamental part of the Global Air Navigation Plan of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

To achieve interoperability some stakeholders may accept SOA while, others may reject it. The presence of SOA and non-SOA infrastructure will create an issue of interoperability. To ensure connectivity between these two types of infrastructures Gateways are used. Gateways will be provided either by the member states or by the third-party provider.

Who are the stakeholders of SWIM

ATM users and providers Airspace providers, Airspace users, ICAO, States, etc. are both considered stakeholders of SWIM. An interesting fact about SWIM stakeholders to consider is the dual nature of acting as provider as well as user of the service.

What are the benefits of SWIM

  • Whenever data was required by a user a unique connection was created, every time. SWIM enables the user to access data from multiple sources through one connection.
  • To ensure interoperability data format is required to follow the same standard format. SWIM translates data from multiple systems into the standard format.
  • Modern standards-based data exchange has replaced unique interfaces. These unique interfaces have limitations while accommodating new users, new formats, and additional systems and contents. Standards for data exchange include Aeronautical Information Exchange Model (AIXM), Flight Information Exchange Model (FIXM), and Weather Information Exchange Model (WXXM). These standards have enough flexibility to accommodate more users, and formats in the future.
  • SWIM ensures the provision of security for the incoming and outgoing data of its stakeholders.
  • Interoperability is achieved at the global level by utilizing the same exchange models.  

System-Wide Information Management is not only the need of time but it also provides a solution for incorporating future updates and user requirements. Hence world aviation community should join SWIM to shape the future by welcoming the exchange of flawless information by creating state of the art collaborative opportunities for everyone related to the aviation industry.

SkyRadar and SWIM

SWIM is an important part in SkyRadar's tower and radar simulators. They teach ATCO and ATSEP on operating ATM systems in an interconnected and interoperable approach.

Contact us to learn more.

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ICAO DOC 9854    Global Air Traffic Management Operational Concept

ICAO DOC 8126    Aeronautical Information Service Manual

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