Grow your data science skills at posit::conf(2024)

August 12th-14th in Seattle

Delivering data products faster with rapid prototyping, powered by Posit Connect

The payoff

Posit Connect has empowered the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) to deliver products following a rapid prototyping methodology, putting versions of a product in the hands of users in days – allowing for actionable feedback and updates that are back to users in hours. 

In a few short months after implementing Posit Connect, their team has achieved numerous successes. The range of data-driven content available to users expanded from just two dashboards to include:

  • Interactive applications (e.g. flight schedule search)
  • Dynamic dashboards (e.g. passenger volume, YHZ Express utilization)
  • A knowledge centre focused on data analytics learning materials 

Posit Connect, being built with open-source architectures in mind means that we can easily integrate it with our data platform, allowing users to interact with HIAA Data Analytics Hub as a store front for accessing analytical content and data artifacts, opening the door to a wider range of users. This code-first approach, combined with the extensive available R libraries, also allows for integrations with Microsoft Teams, our organization’s internal communication platform.  

The changes implemented have quickly produced tangible benefits, including:

  • Streamlining processes by eliminating the need to request information from the service centre, saving hours of manual work weekly
  • Empowering informed decision-making through enhanced access to relevant data
  • Valuable insights into the return on investment (ROI) of new programs and services
  • Requests from multiple departments, including Planning and Infrastructure, Operations, Finance, and Customer Experience to develop data analytics products and services

Life before Posit Connect:

HIAA aspired to create a data analytics program integrated with business units to provide informed decision making. Initially, the program relied on professional services and business intelligence tools to develop and communicate business insights. 

This approach resulted in disconnected solutions, long development cycles, high costs, and minimal value dashboards with a poor user experience. A change was required to scale the program to meet the demands of the organization. 

Moving from business intelligence tools and professional services was decided so that an iterative product development methodology could be established. As the team underwent changes, individuals with strong analysis and development skills in R were brought onboard, paving the way for the establishment of a code-first data analytics program.

Our principles

Additional factors contributing to success were the philosophical and cultural changes that were implemented. Previously, data analytics was approached as a project, being handled on a year-to-year basis. Any desired changes or improvements required a new project, leading to a fragmented data analytics experience. The team implemented new guiding principles that helped address the challenges and difficulties previously experienced.



An object, system, or service made available that satisfies a need or desire of users

Self service:

Opening access for users to data, analysis, and technology provided in a range of different forms, serving several different technical capabilities

Single source of truth:

A central data management system for the storage of data and insights built to provide enterprise analytics, resulting in improved confidence and trust

Rapid prototyping:

A user focused methodology used to build products integrates users with development teams during design and development phases. The focus of the methodology is to quickly build working models of a product that are immediately available for user testing. The approach removes the need for detailed requirement gathering and long development cycles, resulting in faster product to market, and increased user acceptance


A set of practices, processes and technologies that combines an integrated and process-oriented perspective on data with automation and methods from agile software engineering to improve quality, speed, and collaboration and promote a culture of continuous improvement in the area of data analytics

Products and services powered by Posit Connect

We developed a centralized self-serve platform, HIAA Data Analytics Hub, built on Posit Connect for accessing data analytics content that serves various business units and users, from operational support teams to senior executives. Our solution is hosted on-premise with access to the internet, providing authenticated access through single sign-on for users from any device with internet access. 

Our initial release focused on data literacy and analytical insights, providing access to content designed to strengthen users’ data knowledge, and various dashboards that provide operational insights.  

The data analytics hub consists of:

  • Quarto blog site
  • Quarto documents
  • Flexdashboard with Shiny runtime
  • Shiny apps using bslib 

The use of flexdashboard, shiny, connectwidgets, ggplot2, and DT R packages allowed the team to develop a visually appealing and interactive user experience, where as pins, httr, jsonlite, XML, dplyr, tidyr, purrr, and lubridate provided data access and data wrangling capabilities.

Putting information and insights into the hands of the business through self-serve access empowered our users to conveniently access information for planning purposes, freeing time for our service centre to focus on operational and customer related tasks. Centralized access to real-time dashboards allow supervisors, managers, and senior executives to make more timely informed decisions.

User notifications

Passenger volumes are important set of metrics for the airport, especially when assessing the level of recovery coming out of the pandemic. Communicating and sharing metrics to targeted audiences is essential for business units to deliver on their responsibility areas. To ensure all users access the same metrics, we leveraged Microsoft Teams as a distribution channel for sharing key passenger volume metrics.


Business dashboard

Understanding passenger volumes is essential for any airport, especially beyond a set of metrics. In combination with metrics that are sent to users via Microsoft Teams, a dashboard is available for users to visually understand trends and return of passengers to the airport within our post pandemic recovery.

Operational tools

Understanding the schedule of future flights is valuable for many business units, especially when planning work activities throughout the airport terminal. Such inquiries were directed to the Airport Service Centre, resulting in a manual effort to extract data from numerous systems and applications. To alleviate the burden, a self-service tool was developed allowing users to search for upcoming flights, a quick and easy solution that removed hours of weekly ad hoc requests.

About Halifax International Airport Authority

HIAA is a locally controlled, non-share capital corporation, which took over the management of Halifax Stanfield International Airport (Halifax Stanfield, airport code YHZ) from Transport Canada on February 1, 2000. Since then, our organization has helped ensure Halifax Stanfield, which is a key community and regional economic asset, can continue to provide the world-class service for which it has become internationally known. As a non-share capital corporation, all profits are reinvested back into the airport and the region.

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