It's happened again. A localized power outage in Atlanta took down the computers of one of the world's largest airlines -- Delta. Last month, a failing router took out the computer system at the nation's fourth largest carrier -- Southwest. And these examples follow a long list of others over the years.
The outages leave carriers scrambling, often for days, trying to help passengers find available seats on subsequent flights, even after the carrier's computer system is back up and running. And when you think about it, an airline is a giant system of moving parts, a precisely timed ballet where pilots and flight crews go from one flight to another. Planes have to end up in the right cities in the correct configuration, all within a tight regulatory framework.
When the computer system goes haywire?
"You’re basically trying to solve one problem at a time, and that’s where the term continuous firefighting comes in. You solve one fire by creating another one later on," says Roei Ganzarski, President and CEO of BOLDIQ a company that makes optimization software for day to day operations of airlines, trucking companies and other businesses where everything is in motion simultaneously.
Ganzarski says that software can also put things back together after a disruption.
"To give our customers a plan that’s better than what they could on their own, at the time they need to make that decision. And that’s what becomes an optimization solution," says Ganzarski.
It all involves the heavy use of mathematics. It's sort of like a big jigsaw puzzle.
"Disruptions will happen," says Ganzarski. "No matter how good you prepare. It could be hardware or software, human disruption, things will happen. The main question: what do I do about it?"
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