Toronto Terminal 1 takes flight with wireless infrastructure

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority has chosen HP Canada as its copilot for a mission to build wireless technology into its newest terminal.

The GTAA, which

manages Pearson International Airport in Toronto, said HP has developed and will manage a wireless local area network (WLAN) to serve Terminal 1, the site which will replace two existing terminals later this year. On Dec. 2, Pearson will host a showcase of the terminal and announce the actual opening day. The new Terminal 1 is expected to accommodate 50 million passengers a year.

Jim Burke, the GTAA’s vice-president of I&IT, said applications to be run over the WLAN include baggage tracking and reconciliation. Airport employees will use handhelds to record baggage information as it enters various canisters and is loaded onto the airplane. As passengers board, staff can then compare the passenger manifest to the bags that have been loaded. If a passenger doesn’t show, the wireless tracking system will allow them to know where and when it was loaded, which will improve on-time departures, he said.

“”We’re taking advantage of what’s effectively a greenfield site,”” he said. “”It’s like anything else — you manage the infrastructure first. What the architects and designers and engineers have put up hasn’t helped us, because of the amount of glass and steel.””

HP on Monday released a slew of mobile computing products, including tablet PCs, notebooks and wireless-ready printers, to further its presence in enterprises that are developing WLANs. Victor Garcia, managing principal of HP Canada’s Mobility Program Office, said the company has also created service packages for customers that already know what they’re looking for (and can use pre-packaged solutions), those who require turnkey consulting, and for customers that outsource the complete project.

“”It is actually cheaper to build a wireless LAN infrastructure than a wire infrastructure. There are some that are still not sure how to exactly calculate total cost of ownership,”” he said. “”But the percentage of companies who are coming to us to ask for advice and a strategy architecturally is less in comparison to the number of companies ready to deploy something.””

Although the WLAN adds some complexity at Person, Burke said managing wireless networks are not that different from an all-wire network except that you have impose more security standards.

“”If you’re going to secure any network you would consider things like encryption, you would consider very strong management of your wireless domain,”” he said. “”You would insist on standards and you would have a security unit which was adept at managing these things.””

“”We are really acting on behalf of customers to show them what the dangers are, but at the same time providing them with a roadmap and a solution to address the concerns,”” he said.

Other wireless applications at the new Terminal 1 will include printing, voice-over-IP, unified messaging and point-of-sale. Burke said the company has been busy training staff to start thinking about other ways to leverage the investment it is making now.

“”Anything that’s produced which is new will be new really in application as opposed to the fundamentals of wireless,”” he said. “”It’s not as though somebody’s invented a new database or a neuron computer.””

The GTAA has already had to add network security staff but will eventually contract out day-to-day management of some help desk functions, Burke added.

Besides the WLAN, HP is also increasing bandwidth for rapid data transmission and improving outdoor coverage for maintenance, vehicle location and identification applications.

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