GTAA gets its cabling challenges under control

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority embarked upon a massive renovation several years ago, and decided to double up on airport improvements by implementing an infrastructure management system that has now paid off in the form of improved efficiency and streamlined maintenance.

When the Neptune, New Jersey-based infrastructure management vendor Planet Associates arrived on the scene at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, cabling documentation was comprised completely of Excel spreadsheets. “The goal was to inventory all cabling, and the systems and services that run on that cabling,” said Chris Langley, manager of IT and telecommunications provisioning services for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. They decided to go with the Planet IRM product.

CEO Bill Spencer said that with Planet IRM, Planet Associates specializes in consolidating infrastructure information. This information is placed into an Oracle repository, after which the visualization component kicks in, allowing users to gauge the infrastructure situation at all times. “It offers analytics, situational awareness, and troubleshooting,” said Spencer.

The implementation proved to be somewhat of a challenge, said Spencer, as the airport continues to operate during the renovations, which are spanning 10 years and costing $4.4-billion. There was also the fact that airports often tend to be “all over the place” when it comes to managing their infrastructure, said Spencer.

“Toronto’s very leading-edge in terms of infrastructure,” he said. Many airports are run by a different body each, whether it’s an airport authority, the city, or a private company, and some provide connectivity to the various airport partners, while others just provide the backbone.

But once the implementation was complete, the benefits began. Langley was especially pleased with the geospatial visualization components of the system. He said, “The mapping system can show you graphically where things are, which is a nice feature…It’s important to have others understand how much infrastructure we have. And for future cabling provisions, there’s cost savings, as they come to us first, instead of surveying again.” The system is coming in handy currently during the GTAA’s implementation of wireless access points, for instance.

Keeping track of everything also provides cost benefits when it comes to putting out proposals and finding contractors—by having an up-to-date snapshot of all the cabling, and the network and hardware devices on it, contractors can offer the most accurate pricing.

Maintenance—such as power upgrades—is also made easier, since the program can track the infrastructure’s components’ lifecycles more accurately and completely.

As for the future, the GTAA is already considering another Planet Associates product, the recently released Intelligent Infrastructure PDF, which enables more layers (including access to live data and data toolkits) and the addition of metadata to Adobe Acrobat documents. “We’re still putting in things every day, so (up-to-date data) would help us out a lot,” said Langley.

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