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Zoom in to see that airplane taking off …

It is now possible to look at any of the over 100,000 daily flights from their departure from the finger to reaching their destination finger… Image credit: ForeFlight

I was talking yesterday about managing drones traffic and I mentioned that every day (that was before the pandemic but everybody hopes those times will come back soon) there are some 100,000 flights around the world. Using services like FligthAware or FlightRadar one can follow air traffic on a computer screen with each flight represented as a green or yellow miniature airplane on a map.

Now a spin off from Boeing, ForeFlight, has teamed up with FlightAware to provide much more detailed information that can be used just for fun, to take a look at what is going on in the busy skies, including how traffic is being routed around thunderstorms or how airports are copying with congestion, or, most likely, by private pilots that want to be aware of the evolving traffic situation. Their services do not make ATC (Air Traffic Control) useless, pilots will have to comply with ATC instructions, but can help in planning well in advance.

With ForeFlight Internet (that is the name of their service) one can look at airplanes docking at their airport finger once they got to their destination airport as well as them leaving the finger and rolling to the departure runway, something that it is not possible to do with FlightAware nor with FlightRadar.

To see the various kind of information you can get through ForeFlight take a look at the clip. Notice how the visualisation works to declutter the image so that the larger the area you are viewing the more higher altitude flights are displayed, and conversely, the more you zoom in and the lower altitude flights are shown, up to seeing the ones on the ground.

What is impressive, is the level of details that are made available at a price that is less than a Netflix subscription! Even though I have been working for decades in technology I am still amazed at the variety of data that are available and at the information that can be produced from these data.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.