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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.

More news: Peter Lamb – Boosting Crawley’s reputation

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

Man jailed for making hoax bomb call in order to catch his flight at Gatwick

A man who made a hoax bomb call in an attempt to catch his flight to the USA has been jailed.

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Jacob Meir Abdellak was running late for the Norwegian flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, so he decided to contact the police to report the threat.

The anonymous call was received at 5.47am on Friday 11 May – just eight minutes before the flight was due to depart – and a full re-screening meant take-off was delayed by 90 minutes.

Further enquiries made by Gatwick Airport Ltd revealed Abdellak was significantly late for the flight and he was denied boarding by airline staff, whom he became abusive towards. He was told to return on another date to rearrange his flight.

It was later confirmed the telephone number used to make the call was the same number linked to his booking.

The 47-year-old librarian, of Amhurst Park, Hackney, London, was arrested at Gatwick Airport on Tuesday 22 May as he attempted to board another flight to the USA.

He was charged with communicating false information regarding a noxious substance likely to create serious risk to human health, however he denied the offence throughout.

Abdellak, a French national, admitted the telephone number was his, but claimed he had lost the SIM card a few days earlier and therefore the call could not have been made by him.

But at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (14 August), when the trial was due to begin, the defendant changed his mind and pleaded guilty.

He was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment and required to pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Gatwick Police Chief Inspector Marc Clothier said:

“This was a quite ridiculous decision made by Abdellak, who fabricated an extremely serious allegation purely for his own benefit. He was running late for his flight and thought it would be a good idea to call in a hoax bomb, however this turned out to be the worst decision he could have made.

“His actions caused the flight to be delayed, and also caused a level of fear and distress among a number of staff and passengers on board that flight.

“The consequences of making allegations about bombs, guns or similar at densely populated locations such as airports are well documented, and Abdellak’s sentence serves as a warning to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and offenders will be dealt with robustly.”

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