Heathrow to introduce automation and self-healing technologies

The UK’s largest and busiest airport has signed an outsourcing agreement with IT company SITA to transform the management of the airport’s vast communication network into a smarter, automated service.

The new service will introduce emerging automation and self-healing technologies, transforming the operation and support of the Heathrow Network Tower from a localised structure in the airport to a wider global support structure. This allows the SITA team in the airport, and remotely from anywhere in the world, to monitor and manage every aspect of the network.

The new service contract includes the support of more than 12,000 telephones, 150,000 LAN connections, 1,900 radios and more than 3,500 WLAN access points across the airport campus. Heathrow’s Network Tower supports every aspect of the network, telephony and radio infrastructure while keeping all network and communications systems secure.

These new services are not only able to quickly detect issues facing the network but can automatically repair critical network components before they have an impact on key services, according to SITA. This will help improve resilience of the network and reduce the time taken to repair problems, key to supporting the smooth operation of the airport, it said.

The new management solution, which will be phased in over the next 16 months, is able to scale to meet the continued passenger growth expected over the next few years. As the UK’s global gateway, Heathrow welcomes more than 78 million passengers every year. The airport is home to more than 80 airlines servicing more than 200 destinations around the world.

• In South Korea, meanwhile, an autonomous vehicle test is underway where a driverless bus covers 2.2km at a speed of 30km/h outside the airport’s Terminal 1, slowing down at traffic signals and changing lanes to avoid obstacles. The autonomous transport trial at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is part of telco KT’s 5G as a Vehicle Platform (5GaVP) project, examining future 5G-related use cases, as well as IoT and AI.

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