ComplexWorld: Linking Complexity and Data Science in ATM

This year we celebrated the 5th anniversary of ComplexWorld. As we reflect over the years to 2011, when Innaxis first launched the network, it’s easy to find many reasons to feel proud and grateful of our partners and participants of the network. ComplexWorld emerged from the idea of applying complexity science techniques to better understand the Air Traffic Management behaviour and the relationships among its different agents. At the network’s inception, it was considered a new and unfamiliar concept, but promising nonetheless. Now the concept has become a reality, after fruitful 5 years of ComplexWorld network development, along with 8 PhDs and 10 projects. The number of references in the field has increased significantly since 2011. To illustrate, the first graph below shows the growth of the number of papers published including the text “air transport” and “complex networks” since 2005. The second graph represents the number of those papers corresponding citations. (Data source: Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science)



In order to provide some direction to the purpose of the ComplexWorld network and specifically, the analysis of the air transport network as a complex system, the ComplexWorld partners Innaxis, University of Seville, University of Westminster, University of Palermo, along with NLR and DLR, identified 5 research challenges in which complexity science could provide a completely new perspective and deeper understanding of system performance. Those challenges include: resilience, metrics, emergent behaviour, data science and uncertainty, which have been our research pillars for the ComplexWorld network; enabling significant progress in those fields, previously insignificantly addressed by traditional and classical models. This the nexus of complexity science and air traffic management has garnered so much attention that soon a book will be released for the public, published under the title, “Complexity Science in air traffic management”. If you cannot wait to have it on your hands, you are in luck! The book is now available on Amazon.

Through the evolution of research within these five pillars, a key insight emerged that drove a conviction: data science was not merely one of the five pillars, but rather the key pillar that would foster the most significant and efficient progress within the other four areas. However, the aviation sector was not fully prepared to move forward quickly with the application of data science techniques as challenges related to data confidentiality, data sharing, and lack of appropriate data management infrastructures presented barriers for advancement. Therefore, with the objective of eliminating or reducing these barriers, in 2013 ComplexWorld organized the first Data Science in Aviation Workshop (DSIAW). The aim was to bring together aviation stakeholders willing to extract knowledge from their available data, with data scientists and experts from other sectors assisting by demonstrating the potential of data science with real examples of ongoing initiatives and recent work. The event was a complete success in terms of invited speaker expertise, but more importantly, the event was outstanding in terms of audience engagement, so much so that DSIAW has became an annual workshop thanks to the support of Eurocontrol and the SJU.

Year after year we have enthusiastically worked to bring relevant experts together to present their work on the application of data science techniques to enable an improvement on their business performance. Furthermore, we feel this sector is moving in the right direction as we see the number of success cases in this sector grow significantly. This year, we are organizing the 4th edition of the DSIAW, which will be celebrated September 8th and 9th at EASA HQ in Cologne. The workshop will be opened by Mr. Luc Tytgat, EASA Strategy and Safety Management Director, and will include presentations about different data science applications, including:

  • Air navigation (UK NATS and Eurocontrol-MUAC),
  • Aviation safety (Innaxis and AESA – Spanish Aviation Safety Agency),
  • Mobility (Boeing and Innaxis)
  • Infrastructure and visualization (Fraunhofer ITWM and ENAC)

Registration is now open so you are invited to join us and participate in the debates. At DSIAW you will also have the opportunity of attending the presentation of the “Complexity Challenges” report, a report in which we have developed in the framework of SESAR Exploratory Research along with 18 external experts who have provided their assessment on how the complexity challenges have been addressed by the different ComplexWorld related activities within these last five years, and the existing gaps and opportunities for future research in the field. We highly encourage you to attend this 1.5 days event and to be an active part of the definition of future research lines in the field of complexity in air transport. If you cannot attend, videos of the event will be uploaded to our vimeo channel and wiki, where you will catch some of the unprecedented conversations and become an active participant in the dialogues.