United Airlines/University of New Haven safety project wins national award

United Airlines and University of New Haven student interns have partnered on a data visualization project that was recognized by National Safety Council with the 2016 Green Cross for Safety Innovation award, the company said.

The award, which recognizes measurable safety innovation, was awarded at a dinner in Chicago last week. It recognizes a corporation, coalition, organization or individual that has achieved evidence-based success by taking an innovative approach to solving a long-held safety challenge.

The United-UNH project came about after the Federal Aviation Administration required airlines to implement a safety management system and there was a merger between United and Continental Airlines. The project relies on data mapping to discover patterns and reduce injuries. The work done was a joint project of student interns from the University of New Haven center for analytics and United Airlines´ corporate safety office.

The project began when United needed to analyze mountains of data and put into accessible, actionable, easy-to-use, multilingual information. Since United Airlines and United Express operate nearly 5,000 commercial flights a day to 342 airports worldwide, the company said the information had to make sense to everyone from front-line workers to top executives in multiple countries.

The project provided flexible, easy-to-use data that drives United employees´ attention to safety. Over two years, United reduced damages by 23 percent and injuries by 11 percent, and airport operations division reduced injuries by 20 percent.

The program has been adopted by five key operating divisions at United.

The University of New Haven is a private, comprehensive institution with approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.