Smart cities get a lot of press, but how about smart airports, or ‘aerotropolis’ as they’ve been dubbed? Airports are like a condensed city, comprising a multitude of enterprises, concessionaires, retail shops, airlines, service companies, government agencies (air traffic control, customs and border control) and public safety organizations. Millions of passengers pass through them each year, and up to tens of thousands of employees are required to make large airports function. We want airports to be smarter, more convienent, easier to navigate and continue to be safe.
Airports looking to thrive in the years to come will need to address the dynamics of the following market drivers: passenger growth, competitive pressure, attracting vendors that passengers want, providing services that increase the traveler engagement and satisfaction and of course airport safety. To be successful as businesses, airports will thus have to focus on three major imperatives: improve passenger experience, increase operational efficiency and improve financial success.
Like smart cities, the airports of the future will also need to fully exploit the power of new technologies, including sensors, processors, mobile apps and behavioral analytics. The key will be a broad integration process among airlines, retailers, restaurants, parking facilities as well as with the surrounding urban area, transport authorities and local businesses. And the earning potential of these non-aeronautical services will play an increasingly important role for financial success in the aviation industry.
Siloed networks are out, converged networks are in
Communication systems will play a pivotal role in meeting these airport business imperatives. Until now, airport operators have typically deployed multiple separate networks at different times, along with different infrastructure projects paid for from isolated budgets. The result is a plethora of siloed networks built with different technologies and managed by disparate network managers.
As a result, the existing network infrastructure is operationally inefficient, and neither scales effectively nor provides a holistic view of the airport. You can guess what this means for aligning with the airport imperatives, not to mention operational excellence. So the challenge is clear: To prepare the airport infrastructure for growth, transformation to a converged network strategy has become the prime goal.
In order for the airport to become smart, connected and future-proof, the right communication systems foundation must be put in place. This foundation is mission critical, and comprised of a converged wireless and campus network that has IoT capabilities and is cybersafe.
Airports and other industries seeking converged network solutions have plenty of proven cases to build on. For example, Nokia’s converged solutions in LTE for critical communications, Internet Protocol/Multi-Protocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS), Passive Optical LAN, Security and Internet of Things all serve as benchmarks that can address the business imperatives and ensure a communication systems foundation that will facilitate our smart, connected ‘aerotropolis’ of the future.
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