London Gatwick Airport has become 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 requires considerably less infrastructure and maintenance.
Legacy FID systems require software to be loaded on a separate computer behind the screen to run them – whereas the airport’s 1,200 cloud-based screens now connect via a web browser from any operating system. This takes up only 3Mbps of bandwidth – so the new real-time system is extremely fast and responsive to updates, which is key in times of disruption. The new system, VisionAir, can also run natively on smart TVs – saving on infrastructure and maintenance costs.
Cathal Corcoran, chief information officer, Gatwick Airport, said, “Our vision was to develop a new-generation system that is reliable, scalable and accessible from anywhere. We are the first major airport to introduce a cloud-based FIDS and the solution we now have in place is resilient, flexible and low cost, with highly optimized data transfer.
“The VisionAir system is just one of many exciting digital initiatives our award-winning digital team is developing. We are transforming the way airport information is communicated and will soon allow passengers to interact with chatbots using Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and other popular apps. We are also exploring the use of the Internet of Things for improving situational awareness, machine learning for accurately predicting flight departure times and recently became the world’s first airport to deploy augmented reality wayfinding.”
Ligiu Uiorean, director, AirportLabs, said, “AirportLabs built VisionAir to be a real-time passenger communication platform that covers all types of messages. Gatwick was the first to recognize the potential of having such a channel and embrace it. Working with the airport, the roll-out has been swift and painless in spite of the complex environment with very tight operational constraints.
“VisionAir has also been very well received by the airlines, ground handlers and other stakeholders, which now have a state-of-the-art tool that ensures effective communication with the passengers – irrespective of an advertising, business as usual or disruption scenario. It is projects like this that form the building blocks for the next generation travel experience and bring further gains even to the most efficient operations. We are very happy to work with an airport like Gatwick who are ready to step with us into the future and change the face of terminals and travel.”