Gatwick’s ‘smart airport’ ambitions take flight as Vodafone rolls-out 5G
Vodafone has deployed a high speed, high capacity fibre optic network at Gatwick Airport in the UK to support 5G services, and enable higher levels of automation and intelligence in its airport operations.
The UK-based carrier said the 5G upgrade at Gatwick, starting with its South Terminal, supports the airport’s five-year digital change programme to reinvent itself as the UK’s leading ‘smart airport’.
The upgrade, which will be repeated in its North Terminal at the start of next year, will support Gatwick’s upcoming trial of robotic parking and further automation of check-in and boarding procedures.
Besides, the new publicly-available 5G network brings “faster speeds and greater reliability” to businesses and users in the airport; Vodafone cited mobile gaming, video downloads, and file transfers as key applications for holidaymakers and business travellers on site.
Gatwick employs 24,000 staff across both its own functions and its resident businesses. It serves 46 million passengers per year. 5G provides capacity to support mobile usage in such high-density venues, noted Vodafone.
The airport, south of London, has been working with Hewlett Packard Enterprise on a $15 million overhaul of its IT systems. The work has covered the introduction of an IoT network, a 30mbps public Wi-Fi network, new CCTV and IPTV services, passenger flow analytics, and machine learning and facial recognition security technologies.
IoT sensors have been installed to monitor waste bins, check-in desks, table availability and pond water levels. In addition, the Wi-Fi network offers download speeds of 30mbps, passenger flow can be monitored based on smart phone locations and heat maps, high definition CCTV and IPTV systems are available to security, and machine learning and facial recognition is available to gate staff.
John Barton, chief information officer at Gatwick Airport, said: “5G has the potential to unlock a wide range of new capabilities and to reliably connect everything around us to a network many times faster than those it replaces. Many of the 250 companies based on the Gatwick campus can also benefit from this super fast 5G service, including those that rely heavily on mobile applications for their day to day business.”
Scott Petty, chief executive at Vodafone UK, said: “The installation of hundreds of kilometres of fibre at the airport will enable us to offer great coverage to the millions of people who use Gatwick Airport each year, as well as to connect its systems and vehicles on site. For example, by connecting mobility carts, airport staff will know where they are at all times, meaning they are better able to help passengers who need support.”