GTAA showcases new terminal’s IT solutions

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has much to sing about. After nearly five years of construction, GTAA this month opened the doors of Toronto’s newest airport terminal at Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1 — a $4.4 billion structure that will be home to not only some of the worlds largest airlines, but some of the world’s newest technologies.

The GTAA demonstrated some of its leading-edge technology to reporters at its GTAA offices in Mississauga, Ont. just before the terminal opened. Among several other innovations, the GTAA has deployed the Intelligent Airport solution from Cisco Systems Inc., which will serve as the technological foundation to deliver operational and passenger benefits and put Toronto’s Pearson International amongst the world’s most advanced airports.

According to Cisco, the Intelligent Airport solutions provide scalable, flexible, intelligent networking capabilities designed specifically for the transportation industry. The “common use” solution will enable the GTAA to converge 14 disparate networks and 11 information silos into one fully-equipped network.

The common use guideline also provides a low-cost structure for airlines. Where in the “old model,” dedicated occupancy with disparate network infrastructures would run in the tens of millions of dollars, the new model enables shared resources in a secure, available environment.

“We are taking a common use approach to common use infrastructure,” said Jim Burke, vice-president of IT and telecommunications for the GTAA. “Common use equals common sense. Our goal is to offer better service at a lower cost.”

The network, in what is being dubbed “Terminal New,” combines a mixture of integrated technologies, including data, voice and video capabilities. The solutions also enable multiple levels of security, such as networks for video surveillance and access control systems, emergency response security, which utilizes wired and wireless networks to enable security personnel to communicate in the case of threat as well as network security to ensure network perimeter security, data privacy, network monitoring, intrusion detection and firewalls.

In addition, the solutions enable self-serve kiosks for passengers, which provide fixed and wireless networking functions for passenger check-in, ticketing and airport information services. Integrated baggage offerings are also a feature of the Cisco technology, in which the common network infrastructure allows for improved security, customer service and reduces the risk of mishandled baggage.

The Cisco offerings also enable “flexible gates,” whereby different airlines can share gates without having to re-install equipment via Atlanta-based partner SITA Inc.’s AirportConnect platform.

Following the “common use” strategy, the SITA desktop platform allows airline personnel to literally log into any computer within the terminal and access his or her specific airline information only. SITA also provides the platform for the self-serve kiosks, which cuts the cost of providing airline-specific machines.

“What we are doing is the support and migration of old legacy systems into dedicated and shared applications,” explained John Jarrell, senior vice-president of airport and desktop services with SITA. “The entire airport connectivity leverages Cisco technology and runs on Internet protocols.”

Cisco is helping the GTAA drive new levels of efficiency and security through a lower-cost method, said Terry Walsh, president of Cisco Canada. He said that Cisco will enable a “one-stop shop” for telephone, data connectivity, check-in, baggage and other facilities within Terminal 1, through the use of advanced network technologies like VPNs, IP telephony, wireless and IP surveillance.

“The GTAA has distinguished itself in creating a world-leading air facility,” Walsh said. “The new Terminal 1 demonstrates the growing importance of intelligent networking…and how adaptive and integrated solutions streamlines operations and improves security.”

The GTAA is in the process of mirroring Terminal New’s technologies into Pearson’s other two terminals.

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