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Gatwick Airport Moves To Digital Radio System To Improve Safety

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Gatwick Airport migrates to a Motorola Solutions digital radio system in latest stage of a digital transformation that has seen it apply cloud and analytics

London Gatwick Airport says its staff can operate more efficiently and safely thanks to the replacement of its analogue radio systems with a digital alternative.

Motorola Solutions’ MOTORBO Capacity Max Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) system has been rolled out to 1,300 staff at the Sussex airport, including its ground staff, security and maintenance teams.

Gatwick claims the upgrade offers a two-fold increase in capacity and is more resilient and secure. Staff use specialist hardware to communicate and handsets updated via Wi-Fi, so the radio network isn’t clogged up.

Gatwick radio systems

motorola-solutions_gatwick-airport-1For some of its products, Motorola offers smartphone applications that allow users to access secure communications network via their own devices. However, it told TechWeekEurope that the nature of Gatwick’s needs meant bespoke radio handsets were the best option.

One app is used by the control teams though. A dispatcher application allows for voice recording, mapping and event logging in the control room and iBeacon indoor positioning allows for location based alerts. Essentially this means the nearest employee can be sent to an incident – saving vital time.

Geo-fencing allows administrators to set up restricted areas, ideal for an airport, and automated escalation policies that apply specific safety and security protocols depending on the severity of an incident.

For deployment, Gatwick worked with Motorola partner Servicom, although no cost details have been disclosed. The DMR system was rolled out in phases to “minimise disruption” and the airport says the scalable nature of Motorola’s product means it is already planning to expand.

Airport safety

Gatwick airport Bridge Pier 1“We chose Motorola Solutions’ MOTOTRBO Capacity Max system not only for how resilient and secure it is, but because of the flexibility it offers us now and into the future,” said Simon Telling, IT project manager at Gatwick Airport.

“We have experienced significant growth over the past decade and we are now approaching the limits of our previous analogue system. Migrating to scalable, digital communications will double our capacity and bring new capabilities that will help us improve efficiency and safety for staff, retail partners and passengers across the airport.”

The plan is to integrate the system further into the airport systems and applications connected will be used to collect data to identify further areas for improvement. In July 2014 it started using Splunk analytics to see where performance gains could be made, such as boarding pass scans and luggage threat identification. And the adoption of cloud technology has even allowed for an increase in the number of landing and take off slots from 52 to 55 per hour.

Gatwick has also worked with Fujitsu to adopt Voice over IP (VoIP) and to implement Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

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