Tech Bytes
Boingo Wireless Inc., acquires seven airport Wi-Fi networks from Sprint. Operations in all seven airports have been converted to Boingo® hotspots.

Sprint customers will retain Wi-Fi access in the airports and will gain access to 16 additional airports where Boingo provides Wi-Fi services directly. Additionally, the companies have entered into a roaming agreement that will provide Sprint customers access to Boingo’s global hotspot network.

The acquisition increases the number of airport networks operated by Boingo and its Concourse subsidiary to 23.
T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI has installed and is testing the latest Tarsier Foreign Object Debris (FOD) technology to provide 24-hour detection of debris on runways. The airport is evaluating the system on behalf of FAA, by the University of Illinois, Center of Excellence in Airport Technology.

The system provides continuous scanning of the runway area and alerts airport operators about FOD when detected. Two Tarsier radar units are in place at TF Green’s north/south runway for a six-month performance assessment.

A computer display unit in the airport’s operations center provides a visual image of the runway and radar imagery. Upon detection of FOD, an alarm sounds and the airport’s operations team goes to the area in question, then looks for and recovers the debris in minutes.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announces a global standard that paves the way for global mobile phone check-in using two-dimensional (2D) bar codes.

Mobile phone check-in enables airlines to send 2D bar codes directly to a passenger’s mobile phone, personal digital assistant, or smart phone.
Passengers register their mobile number with their airline at the time of booking to receive a text message with a 2D bar code, or instructions to download it. The bar code becomes the passenger’s boarding pass and is read directly from the screen of the mobile device, eliminating paper completely from the check-in process.

The industry has set a deadline of the end of 2010 to implement 100 percent bar-coded boarding passes (BCBP). Upon full implementation, it is estimated that BCBP will save the industry over $500 million annually. A 2D standard for paper bar-coded boarding passes was established in 2005 and is the basis for web check-in. Both standards can be issued and accepted by airlines worldwide.

The global introduction of BCBP to replace magnetic stripe technology is one of five Simplifying the Business projects launched by IATA in 2004. The ‘StB’ goal is to use technology to make travel more convenient while saving $6.5 billion in costs.
A survey of IT trends among the world’s top 200 airport operators has found that tackling congestion and meeting security demands are the main drivers behind IT investment.

The 4th Airport IT Trends Survey was carried out by SITA in conjunction with Airline Business and Airports Council International (ACI).
The 2007 survey results show that over the next two years, airports plan to make significant changes, particularly in the area of passenger self-service and shared-use systems to meet the twin demands of phenomenal growth in passenger traffic and stricter security regulations.

The survey also finds that airports are set to invest heavily on improving airside operations to address traffic and aircraft movement congestion.
Investments in new Geographic Information Systems, ground and vehicle tracking systems, and Collaborative Decision Making tools are on top of the airport operations’ IT ‘shopping list’ for the next two years, according to the report.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is showcasing a new automatic explosive detection system being piloted at Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

Auto-EDS gives TSA a new automated capability for the inspection of carry-on bags for explosives and weapons and has the potential to eventually replace the current x-ray technology now used in airport security checkpoints. Auto-EDS provides enhanced detection capabilities through the use of computed tomography x-ray combined with automated threat detection software, which alerts TSA security officers of the presence of potential threat items.

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(Tech Bytes are compiled by assistant editor Anna Stanley; reach her at