Brussels Airport welcomes more than 24 million passengers a year and ensures convenient travel to meet family, to take a short break or to do business.
The strong network with more than 230 direct connections between Brussels Airport and other cities in the world strengthens the role of Brussels as the capital and centre of Europe.
Sketching a vision of the Brussels Airport for the future, Logghe says the aim is to provide an end-to-end experience: “Imagine, when leaving home, you would receive up-to-date information about transport and parking options and choices to handle your luggage. We thus guide you to and through the airport, whisk you through security, and have a table for you at your departing gate. From an ICT perspective, we need to provide the digital tools an innovation to make that possible”.
Digital signposting directs passengers through the terminals; shops and restaurant ping offers to passengers as they pass by or when they arrive at the airport. Central to this, Logghe continues, is an always-on, very reliable, always connected IT infrastructure which has to be secure. A zero percent, risk-free digital connected infrastructure doesn’t exist, but we need to be as strong as possible. We have two networks: one for internal operations, one for our + partners. Bot need to be fully protected.
In 2015, Logghe began work on a revamp of the airport’s data centre network.
“Up until that moment his focus had been on a wired environment, but it became increasingly obvious that they need to revisit wireless. Operationally, staff were working on mobile devices. He could see where IoT was going. From a passenger perspective, wireless had been built by an external supplier, and frankly, passenger weren’t satisfied. So, Brussels Airport decided to take control of our wireless”.
At this stage, there was no Hewlett Packard Entreprise or Aruba wifi deployed around the airport. It was clear that Brussels Airport would review the incumbent solutions with the help of Prodata Systems, and was keen to examine a range of alternative solution providers. From a wired point of view, he considered HPE and its closest competitor as on a par, but the HPE acquisition of Aruba proved a game-changer.
"For me, Aruba is best-in-class in mobility, particularly in terms of innovation and management capabilities."
The airport’s network solution compromises 2 Aruba 7240 Mobility Controllers, 300 high-density indoor Aruba AP-315 and 100 high-density outdoor Aruba AP-270 Access Points. The wired network is composed of several segments, built around HPE-7906 DC Core Switches, HPE-5930 DC Distribution Switches and HPE-5700 TOR Switches. The Access Layer includes 600 HPE-5130 Switches. In addition, Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager enables secure network access control, while Aruba AirWave Network Management offers granular visibility into wireless and Campus networks together with HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC) for managing the data centre.
It is expected that, on average, over 40.000 people will be connecting to the new wireless network and authenticated by Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager each day. Logghe expects the setup of the authentication of guests to be fully complete by the first quarter of 2018. Installation of the new wireless network began in early 2017 and completed spring 2017.
"We are aware that we’re at the beginning of a long journey. Every passenger should enjoy fast, easy-to-access wifi by January 2018. And by next summer I’d expect to see some new services coming through. We’re already beginning to collect a lot of helpful digital data to help enhance the passenger experiences (Logghe)."
Once complete, Brussels Airport will have the wireless network it needs, inhouse and under its control, backed by a solid and reliable wired backbone. It will provide the platform on which to build and manage a whole range of new, IoT-based operational improvements.
“We’re already running well, operationally but we recognise the possibilities of IoT. We want to increase efficiency, integrate more processes and be better able to support innovation. We have started a new business unit, called Digital, which is also exploring IoT, with a view to examining, testing and implementing new services. The ability to move quickly on this is very important."
Central to this innovation platform will be the ability to integrate partners and manage the appropriate network accesses. Brussels Airport welcomes more than 24 million passengers a year and works together with more than 260 partners. Aruba ClearPass gives them the ability to manage different access for different uses.
Anticipating the EU’s imminent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Luc Logghe says Brussels Airport must be ready. GDPR is not something to mess with. An airport is a very visible business. Passengers understand their rights and expect us to manage their personal information correctly. Respecting their privacy is a part of the passenger experience. Ultimately, we want as much contact as possible with our passengers. The more we can build a profile of an individual’s preferences, the better we’ll be at crafting the ideal airport experience.
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