Gatwick Airport – enhancing passenger experience through technology

Russell Goodenough
By , - NewsTransport

We were thrilled this month to win an Aecus Innovation Award for our work with Gatwick Airport.

The project, working alongside partners Cisco and Xchanging, saw the first cloud-based telephony system implementation at a UK airport, using the Fujitsu Cloud, Connect, Collaborate (CCC) service. This was a ‘giant leap forward’ for the airport, in the words of its CIO, Michael Ibbitson.

Since Gatwick came under new ownership five years ago, close to £1bn has been invested with a particular emphasis on technology.

We spoke to Michael who explained why technology and innovation was so important to their strategic goals.

“We have an ambition to be London’s airport of choice,” he said.  “To make sure we stay in that position we use innovation and technology to get there.

“Gatwick is really focused on the passenger experience through everything, the way we design the facilities right down to our IT systems.”

The old, dated telephony system was not resilient enough, and didn’t give the airport the flexibility required to operate a modern airport.

The existing local infrastructure didn’t enable employees or other airport stakeholders such as retailers to access centralised services. This meant, for example, in times of adverse weather conditions there was no way for all the different parties to collaborate and co-ordinate.

This could lead to delays, and a poor passenger experience.

“Gatwick is the busiest single runway airport in the world and we move approximately 40 million passengers through every single year,” Michael added.

“We were looking for innovation and for new ideas. A Unified Communications end-to-end solution which could meet the complex needs of our staff, our operation, and our partners is what we needed.”

The new system allows Gatwick Airport’s 2500 employees to collaborate using any device from any location, helping them work together more efficiently and effectively.

“It helps us connect front line staff, in the terminals and on the airfield, with the people in the back offices who have to make strategic decisions and make things change,” explains Michael.

Another key benefit is an increase in employee satisfaction and productivity. The service delivers the same experience wherever the employee is located, be it in the office, working from a distant hanger or at home.

The ultimate goal is to provide a better passenger service for everyone travelling through Gatwick.

Migrating to a cloud-based service has greatly improved service resilience. In particular, the impact of potential on-site flooding to core infrastructure has been removed. The ability to use 3G and 4G cellular networks ensures the ability of employees to communicate, even if the airport network is unavailable.

The airport is also considering the commercial opportunity in reselling the Fujitsu CCC service to their airport partners, such as retailers.

This group contribute over half of the airport’s total revenue, and technology will help drive their future growth.

At the same time, the service has reduced Gatwick’s own complexity by using one telephony platform across the airport, for themselves and their tenants.

We think this is a fantastic example of how innovation can be used to totally change the way an organisation works, and we’re extremely proud to be honoured with the Aecus Innovation Award.

You can find out more about our work at Gatwick Airport in this video:


 

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