IP technology takes off at Halifax airport

If you’re set to fly out of Halifax anytime soon, your journeymay be a lot smoother as the result of a major new technologydeployment at Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA).

It would certainly seem the customer comes first, as flexibilityand convenience for air travelers are key drivers of the project,according to Michael Healy, vice president, infrastructure andtechnology, HIAA.

The new technology is a collaboration between Cisco Systems Inc.and Hewlett Packard Canada Co. that will support a $90 millionexpansion project.

The goal is to unify communications including voice, video, andwireless, into a single airport-wide system via the Cisco UnifiedCommunications System.

“This type of deployment is the first of its kind in AtlanticCanada,” said Healy, “As for the benefits this brings, it’sessentially convenience.”

He added the airport now has self-service check-in kiosks aswell as an integrated security system.

“This new equipment means more flexibility, and it also meanscost savings,” he said. “The implementation is nearly complete,with the only remaining component being the U.S. Preclearancefacility.”

Not only is this deployment a first for Atlantic Canada, it willalso bring “firsts” for East Coast passengers.

“Atlantic Canadians have not had access to U.S. Preclearance inthe past,” he said.

The deployment includes 275 Cisco IP (Internet Protocol) phonesfor incorporated IP-based capabilities with the use of the CiscoIntelligent Airport Solution infrastructure.

“We’ve been involved in many of these airport projects inCanada,” said Brantz Myers, director of enterprise marketing, CiscoSystems Canada. “As a company we’ve had a lot of experience inapplying the use of IP to airports.

“To make it happen, we need a good integrator, and HP has donean excellent job from our perspective in putting it all together,”he said.

The role that HP Canada played is essentially that ofintegrator, said Reg Schade, vice-president and general manager, HPServices, Hewlett Packard Canada Co.

“Our goal is to marry the business needs of the technology withthe business needs of the customer,” said Schade. “Although thisproject was a massive undertaking, it was implemented with no majorglitches or roadblocks.”

However, where an airport is concerned, there is always thelooming question of security, but IP is a safe and secure means ofcommunication, according to Myers.

“We’re at the end of the beginning of IP communications now,” hesaid. “IP is no longer being questioned as much as it used tobe.”

“The questions we used to get about, is it reliable, is itsecure, not just for voice, but for the whole network, thosequestions don’t come up nearly as often,” Myers said. “Today Ithink the market has accepted it as very valid technology, and(customers) are really embracing it.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Lawrence Surtees, vice-president andprincipal analyst, communications research at IDC Canada Ltd.

“In terms of where we’re at now, there’s no longer any questionthat IP is safe, and that it’s reliable,” he said.

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