16 Nov 2004View Comments
BAA plans to ensure smooth customer service and operations when Heathrow Terminal 5 opens by introducing software linking up key information systems.
IT systems will be connected using service orientated architecture meaning sudden scheduling changes can be communicated to baggage handling, passenger and flight information systems in seconds.
The Sonic ESB enterprise service bus product was chosen following an in-depth EU approved OJEC procurement process, with the first systems set to go live in 2005 in preparation to the terminal's opening in 2008.
The software will manage communication and changes resulting from real-time events at the airport, simplifying millions of messages generated by different operational systems in the terminal.
Nick Gaines, head of IT at Terminal 5, says the infrastructure will ensure high levels of customer service for the 35 million passengers expected to pass through it each year.
'Heathrow is the gateway to the UK,' said Gaines. 'Downtime of even a few minutes can cause disruption across all our operations.'
'Problems for passengers, parking and traffic escalate very quickly, and it doesnt take long to impact many people and organisations, and we get national media interest.'
Sonic's open standards based software also means new systems can be connected quicker in the future as less systems development is needed, says Gaines.
'Around the world, many major airport integration projects fail to deliver, due to the difficulties of large scale systems change with traditional approaches to integration,' he said.
'In order to reduce this risk, our strategy is to minimise the interdependencies between products, using open standards to increase operational flexibility and make sure that applications are responsive to change.'
BAA says it also considering introducing the software across other parts of the company, which operates seven airports in the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
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