According to a Strategy Trends & Tactics document by Stampford, CTbased Gartner Inc. (www3.gartner.com), the number of public wireless LAN (Local Area Network) hotspots worldwide will increase from slightly more than 1,000 at the end of 2001 to more than 21,000 at the end of 2004. Many airports hope to be included in those numbers, and with the proliferation of wireless network providers, it is likely they will.
Passengers aren’t the only beneficiaries of advances in wireless technology. Airport operations, including those of concessionaires, ground service companies, and other airport tenants, could be changed for the better if this technology is utilized.
For instance, ramp workers at a wireless-equipped airport could could carry a PDA (personal data assistant) or other handheld computer, enter information as necessary while on the ramp, and that data is automatically transmitted over the wireless network to a central database. One such device is the i-AIR i (integrated-airport self-inspection & reporting) system from Tampa-based Neubert Aero Corporation (www.airportnac.com), which allows users to perform paperless FAR Part 139 and 5010 self-inspections. No handwritten notes or reminders, and no download of information to another computer is necessary. These devices have the capability of saving time and resources.
Looking inside the airport, multiple wires that support current technology infrastructure could be eliminated, saving money on maintenance and management. Additionally, airport management as well as concessionaires and airlines might find advantages to having a completely wireless network.
Wireless technology also has the potential to offer benefits in terms of security. Vanguard Managed Solutions and OMNI Security Services, Inc. have implemented a wireless surveillance solution in Newark Liberty International Airport employee parking lots and around bus routes. This wireless surveillance security system includes 24 cameras and 12 call boxes in one lot alone, wirelessly connected to a single converged voice, video, and data IP (Internet Protocol) network, and is intended to allow employees and federal security agents a higher level of security.
Centralized surveillance and a more accurate view of the parking lots and bus stops enable security guards to more readily respond.
• Bemidji/Beltrami County Airport is one of the latest to install a highspeed wireless network. The service is being provided for free to passengers during a trial period expected to last through August 30.
• Wayport has an agreement with CNN Airport Network that will allow a complete neutral-host Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) wireless high-speed Internet solution to the 38 airports nationwide with access to CNN Airport Network. The neutral-host wireless solution will run over the existing CNN Airport Network infrastructure. For airports that choose to integrate Wayport’s Wi-FI service, only an upgrade will be necessary.
• In a move designed to spread awareness and use of wireless Internet access throughout public places such as airports, computer manufacturer Dell is equipping two of its notebook products with Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) capability as a standard feature. Dell has also partnered with Wayport to offer Dell’s U.S. customers discounted memberships and a limited-time offer of 30 days access, free of charge.
• SITA has deployed an XP-based Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system at Toronto Pearson International Airport. CUTE XP is a shared use software, hardware, and network solution designed to enable airlines and handling agents to securely access their applications from workstations, printers, and other devices used by any and all users. The system uses Windows XP™ and 2000, is designed to be scalable for airports and airlines of all sizes, and is available in wireless, dial-up and “lite” versions.