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More tech upgrades for Gatwick

Gatwick’s already seen some upgrades so far this year. Its also had its busiest March on record. So what are the newest changes at the UK’s second largest Airport?

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Gatwick Airport has taken a critical step towards digital transformation by completely updating its campus network with HPE and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

Like us, you may be wondering exactly what this all means and how it might benefit you when you check-in. Don’t worry we’ll do our best to break it all down.

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Secure, high-speed networks are essential to the smooth running of modern airports. Gatwick’s network needs to support more than 250 onsite businesses, 30,000 staff and 45 million annual passengers.

The upgrade is designed to not only improve delivery of Gatwick’s existing data needs, but to allow it to implement new technologies.

Part of this upgrade involves deploying sensors that will measure numerous variables such as waste bin levels, occupancy of check-in desks, and even restaurant seating availability within the airport!

An upgrade to the Wi-Fi provided for passengers will mean they can expect more than 30mbps download speed. And how much will this cost the passenger? Absolutely nothing.

Passenger flow analytics based on smart phone locations as well as heat maps will identify queueing and performance improvement opportunities.  Machine learning and facial recognition will also be implemented to improve security and develop ‘Passenger Journey Mapping’ so gate staff can track late running passengers and send notifications via apps.

“Transitioning from old to new networks while keeping the world’s most efficient runway operating is like performing open heart surgery on a patient while he is running.”

This isn’t the first time Gatwick has been a step ahead of others with its technology. Back in March it was announced that Gatwick was going to trial electric-powered autonomous vehicles to shuttle staff around popular locations on the airfield. The trial was thought to be the first of its kind for any airport in the world.

Not long before this, in February, Gatwick became the world’s first major airport to introduce a cloud-based Flight Information Display System (FIDS) – an innovative, cost effective system that is easily scalable, more flexible and resilient, and requires considerably less infrastructure and maintenance.

A spokesperson from the International Data Corporation (IDC) said:

“Gatwick Airport has made a bold move, choosing to completely overhaul its network and enable new technologies, therefore enabling new operational and business models.

“An airport is a complicated environment with multiple end-users, including businesses and private individuals, who have different data needs. In many ways, an airport can be seen as a microcosm of a city. Therefore, not only similar enterprises, but city governments should be following Gatwick’s digital transformation journey with interest.”

Completed in just 18 months while the airport remained 100% operational, the project had to be completed without any downtime or instability. Similar transitions typically take up to four years, but Gatwick and HPE absorbed the challenges of completing the massive project in less than half the normal time, to ensure Gatwick had the resilience necessary for a critical national infrastructure site and the world’s most efficient single-runway airport.

Marc Waters, Managing Director for UK & Ireland, HPE, said:

“Transitioning from old to new networks while keeping the world’s most efficient runway operating is like performing open heart surgery on a patient while he is running. We’re delighted with how smoothly the project has run – the world’s most efficient single runway now has an equally powerful and productive IT network to match it.

“All parties have worked seamlessly, while the airport remains fully functioning, to avoid any impact to the day-to-day running of the airport and its millions of passengers. This transition will be one of the most impressive to have taken place in recent years – we’re very proud to have led it.”

Cathal Corcoran, Chief Information Officer, Gatwick Airport, said:

“We’ve seen record breaking passenger growth since 2010 and to make sure our passengers have the best experience possible, we needed a new network that could handle our expected future growth numbers.

“The network’s capability has been uplifted by such a scale that it now matches that of an Internet Service Provider and allows the airport to provide the latest technologies across a campus that serves over 250 onsite businesses, 30,000 staff and 45 million annual passengers.

“We also needed a much more resilient, self-healing and fault tolerant network and one that is capable of handling future technologies that process considerably more data. HPE’s combined network offering provides this and more as it ultimately supports our vision of an IT infrastructure for a decade.”

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Crime

Two jailed after attempt to smuggle 8.5kgs of cocaine through Gatwick

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK”, says Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South.

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The drugs, which had been wrapped in plastic and hidden inside boxes marked ‘rum’, weighed approximately 8.5kgs.

Two men from Barbados are facing a total of 13 years in jail after pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle an estimated 8.5kgs of cocaine into the UK.

On 1 September, Border Force officers stopped 62-year-old Grantley Herbert Thompson, and 30-year-old Jamal Ricardo Walcott, in the customs channels at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal. Both had arrived on a flight from Barbados.

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During a search of their baggage officers discovered a white powder, wrapped in green plastic, and hidden inside boxes marked rum. The powder was subsequently tested and gave a positive reaction to the field test for cocaine. The cocaine had an estimated street value of £535,000.

Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South said:

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK and I commend the Border Force officers whose work ensured that Thompson and Walcott are now behind bars.

“Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies. They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.

“We continue to work with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency (NCA) to do all we can to stamp out this despicable trade and bring those responsible to justice.”

The case was referred to the NCA and Thompson and Walcott were charged with importation of a class A drug.

62-year-old Grantley Thompson.

On Thursday, 11 October the pair appeared at Croydon Crown Court where they admitted the smuggling attempt. Both were sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment immediately.

30-year-old Jamal Walcott.

The Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which was launched in April, aims to combat the devastating impact drugs have on levels of serious violence.

It also highlights a strong link between drugs and serious violence and the related harm and exploitation from county lines. The Government has set out the action it will take to tackle this violent and exploitative criminal activity. The action of Border Force to stop drugs before they get into the country forms a key part of this work.

Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

Nationally, they use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to https://www.gov.uk/report-smuggling

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