OU NOC Tour
I was happy to represent the Analytics Lab recently as a part of a larger team from OU who were invited down to Dallas, TX near Love Field to meet with Southwest Airlines (SWA) to learn more about the airline business and operations. The attendees from OU included the Vice President of Research; directors from the School of Computer Science in the Gallogly College of Engineering and Management Information Systems in the Price College of Business; senior researchers and specialists from political science, psychology, computer science, and of course, data science.
We were privileged to take a tour of the famous Southwest Airlines Network Operations Control, a.k.a., the NOC. This facility and the employees who work here are at the very core of the SWA network operations. From dispatchers to air traffic control specialists to flight operations to maintenance to crew schedulers to weather analysts — this is where the major operational decisions are made.
The unique look of the NOC, bathed in blue as it is, was designed scientifically to help with mood and to reduce eye strain. And, well, it simply looks cool.
While we were at the NOC, it so happens that Southwest Airlines was actively engaged in planning for the expected impacts from the impending Hurricane Harvey. Obviously, weather, and especially major weather events like hurricanes, play a huge role in flight delays and cancellations for all airlines. Such disruptive events can have impacts across across an entire transportation network. Analyzing and optimizing under this larger “system-wide” view is what ISE’s are famous for. These are hard problems, but they are worth solving!