Kitchin, Rob and Dodge, Martin (2008) Airport code/spaces. In: Aeromobilities: Theory and Research. Routledge, London, pp. 96-114. ISBN 9780415449564
Nearly all aspects of passenger air travel from booking a ticket to checking-in, passing through security screening, buying goods in duty free, baggage-handling, flying, air traffic control, customs and immigration checks are now mediated by software and multiple information systems. Airports, as we have previously argued (Dodge and Kitchin 2004), presently consist of complex, over-lapping assemblages to varying degrees dependent on a myriad of software systems to function, designed to smooth and increase passenger flows through various ‘contact’ points in the airport (as illustrated in Figure 1) and to enable pervasive surveillance to monitor potential security threats. Airport spaces – the check-in areas, security check-points, shopping areas, departure lounges, baggage reclaim, the immigration hall, air traffic control room, even the plane itself - constitute coded space or code/space. Coded space is a space that uses software in its production, but where code is not essential to its production (code simply makes the production more efficient or productive). Code/space, in contrast, is a space dependent on software for its production – without code that space will not function as intended, with processes failing as there are no manual alternatives (or the legacy ‘fall-back’ procedures are unable to handle material flows which means the process then fails due to congestion). Air travel increasingly consists of transit through code/spaces, wherein if the code ‘fails’ passage is halted. For example, if the check-in computers crash there is no other way of checking passengers in; manual check-in has been discontinued, in part, due to new security procedures. Check-in areas then are dependent on code to operate and without it they are simply waiting rooms with no hope of onward passage until the problem is resolved. In these cases, a dyadic relationship exists between software and space (hence the slash conjoining code/space) so that spatiality is the product of code, and code exists in order to produce spatiality.
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