WIRELESS WORKS

By Jodi Prill , Associate Editor Minneapolis/St. Paul and San Jose international airports have implemented public access wireless Internet systems. Operating under different business models, both airports have seen benefits to passengers and...


AIRLINES' ROLE
Several airlines are currently employing wireless technology or considering it. Tom Fulton, general manager of eBusiness for Delta Air Lines, says the company is "taking a less aggressive role" in regard to wireless implementation. It is using an 802.11b system on bag tugs for gate assignment in Atlanta, but because of a lack of funding, it has not ventured into the public facilities arena. "We are focused on ramp and below the wing applications," Fulton says. "I don't see us going to a complete wireless operation - we supplement and augment." Alaska Airlines has had wireless deployed for nearly four years. Main uses include tracking inventory for airplane stock and heavy maintenance at its major facilities. According to Bill Heppner, director of system integration, the airline is currently testing a wireless baggage reconciliation system. And, similar to Delta, most of its focus is on the operational side of wireless applications. In Toronto, the airport is working "hand in hand with Air Canada" to create a wireless network, according to Thomas Tisch of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

SECURITY BENEFITS
Robert Smallback, Southwest Florida International Airport, is interested in the security benefits a wireless infrastructure could provide. "Very little has been done for security at airports, relatively speaking," Smallback says. Time and money have been exhausted on screening passengers and baggage inside the airport, but the acres outside the terminal buildings, including construction sites and fuel farms, are being ignored. Smallback has included the fuel farm and construction site at his airport in a test program for wireless perimeter security through GuardianWatch. "It's vital for us to look at security issues with this massive amount of territory and develop proactive and preventive solutions," he says.

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