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L.A. Airport CIO: ‘Using Technology to Create an Exceptional Guest Experience’

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As part of Industry Insider — California’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT leaders.

Aura Moore is deputy executive director and chief information officer at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the governing body for Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports. It’s a role she has had since July 2016, after serving as interim CIO from January-July 2016, and, before that, as deputy CIO from February 2015-January 2016. Her time at LAWA dates to March 2009 when she joined the organization as IT Project Management Office director. Earlier roles include seven years as telecommunications planner at the city of Los Angeles’ IT agency and eight years as electrical engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Moore has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, where her studies had an emphasis on power systems.

Industry Insider — California: As deputy executive director/CIO of your organization, how do you describe your role? How have your role and responsibilities changed in recent years in terms of their intersection with IT and innovation?

Moore: As deputy executive director/CIO, I oversee the delivery of several exciting projects and maintain day-to-day IT operations (networks, infrastructure, operational systems and data). I keep the airport running with current technologies, while also having a focus on innovation and exploring digital frontiers to enhance the guest experience. In recent years, my role has become more business-focused, understanding the business challenges and aligning technology and innovation to solve business problems. IT and innovation are intertwined and inseparable in today’s world.

IICA: Does your organization have a strategic plan? How big a role do you personally play in writing that strategic plan?

Moore: LAWA has a strategic plan that’s been refreshed as we recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. And yes, my organization plays a vital role in that plan and its execution. There are specific strategic goals related to IT modernization and enhancement of our guest experience with new digital services, enhancing operational efficiencies with automation and data, and enhancing safety and security with technology.

IICA: What big initiatives or projects are coming up? What sorts of developing opportunities and RFPs should we be watching for in the next six to 12 months?

Moore: We have major initiatives in security technology, infrastructure, cloud migration, situational awareness and guest experience, and a continuing need for professional services, subject matter expertise and project management in all of these areas. Specific RFPs that you might be on the lookout for are for a digital content management system, an automated landing fee solution, and a campus wireless and financial management system.

IICA: In your opinion, what should local government be doing more of in technology?

Moore: This probably depends on the strategic goals of each agency, but for LAWA, we are focused on using technology to create an exceptional guest experience. We are investing billions in our physical infrastructure ahead of several global-stage events, and we are making sure we invest just as strategically in our digital infrastructure. We want that investment to give our guests an abundance of options and information that make their LAX experience memorable and pleasant.

IICA: How do you define “digital transformation?” How far along is your organization in that process, and how will you know when it’s finished?

Moore: At LAWA, we have tied “digital transformation” to our strategic goals for guest digital experience and sorted it into five pillars:

  • Guest Experience Management
  • Digital Marketplace Services
  • IT Modernization and Cloud-Enabled Digital Services
  • Airport Data Factory
  • Airport Situational Awareness
Overall, through these pillars, our goal is to transform LAX from someplace you want to get through to someplace you want to come to. We’re putting a lot of structure into this program to measure success and complete projects. We’ll know we’re there when our guests are consistently surprised and delighted.

IICA: What is your estimated IT budget and how many employees do you have in the Information Management and Technology Group? What is the overall budget?

Moore: I have about 110 employees in the Information Management and Technology Group with an IT operating budget of $33 million, within an overall LAWA budget of $1 billion-plus. I also manage a capital budget of approximately $100 million.

IICA: How do you prefer to be contacted by vendors, including via social media such as LinkedIn? How might vendors best educate themselves before meeting with you?

Moore: An optimal way is via LinkedIn. As for education, you can find a lot of interesting information on the website. One thing I always recommend to people is to check the Board of Airport Commissioners page, which has regular updates from the CEO Justin Erbacci and often special reports from our executives on operations, construction, finance and many other topics.

IICA: In your tenure in this position, which project or achievement are you most proud of?

Moore: I’m proud of the fact that I’ve successfully delivered many projects with my team that have improved security, improved operational efficiencies, and transformed various aspects of the passenger experience at LAX. It’s tempting to point to a project or award, but really the thing that makes me the proudest is the growth and development of our people. We took a huge blow to our budget in 2020 and we asked everyone in the Information Management and Technology Group to keep LAWA innovating and enhancing the travel experience in a safe airport environment with touchless technology. They rose to that challenge and as a result, we have one of the most capable technology groups in the business. Our IT leaders have proven to be very versatile and have delivered hundreds of critical infrastructure projects in a demanding environment. I’m so proud of this team.

IICA: What has surprised you most this year in government technology?

Moore: It seems like across the board, we are turning our attention to advancing technology that somehow enriches or improves people’s experience.

IICA: What do you read to stay abreast of developments in the gov tech/SLED sector?

Moore: There are some great organizations that focus on technology in the public sector. In aviation, we have Airports Council International, Passenger Terminal Expo and Future Travel Experience, all of which produce timely and relevant content specific to aviation. Government Technology* and Gartner also provide a lot of excellent thought leadership that is useful to public-sector tech.

IICA: What are your hobbies and what do you enjoy reading?

Moore: I have various hobbies that range from taking road trips to gardening to arranging flowers to volunteering. I find that enjoying the environment and nature is calming and re-energizes the mind and soul. I also volunteer as a member of the L.A. Unified School District IT Advisory Council, where I get to help advance innovative programs for students which may include deploying Mobile Tech Learning Centers with cutting-edge hands-on technology, fostering interest in technology careers among female students, and elevating teaching and learning through increased integration of technology in classrooms of the future. I enjoy reading material on health and nutrition. Having some focus on wellness and work-life balance has guided my interest in nutrition, diet, feeling lighter on my feet, and keeping a sharp mind.

*Government Technology magazine is a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for style and brevity.