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Technology

 April 06, 2005
Vancouver Airport Builds Upon Cisco Intelligent Airport Solution

 Vancouver International Airport Authority has announced its innovative technology strategy has taken a major step forward with the completion of a Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) Communications systems throughout the airport. The addition of voice capabilities to the airport's Cisco Intelligent Airport Solution is the latest in a series of network-enabled innovations to accommodate passenger travel needs, as well as drive operational efficiency and create new revenue opportunities for the airport.

Utilizing technology from Cisco Systems and services from TELUS Business Solutions, the advanced network integrates voice, video, data and wireless communications into a single, airport-wide communications system. In addition to supporting 1,100 Cisco IP phones, 1,000 close-circuit cameras and more than 1,500 television screens, the Cisco Intelligent Airport Solution is powering a series of innovative services -- from common-use terminal equipment and self-service check-in kiosks, to wireless baggage reconciliation and wireless access for business travelers.

"In 2005, more than 16 million passengers will travel through Vancouver International Airport and every one of them will benefit in some way from the IP-based technology we are deploying," explains Kevin Molloy, chief information office and vice-president of Simplified Passenger Travel at the Vancouver International Airport Authority. "We're using innovative, network-based applications to make traveling as seamless and efficient as possible for airlines and their passengers."

IP-based innovation is already having a profound impact at the airport. Initial evidence reveals that self-service kiosks are driving capacity by 250 - 300 per cent. For example, 85 per cent of Air Canada's domestic passengers check-in using self-service kiosks. In addition, Vancouver International Airport consistently scores high in passenger satisfaction surveys. In 2004, it was rated the number seven airport in North America in the annual AETRA survey of international passengers.

According to Gilles St. Hilaire, vice-president of Western Canada at Cisco Systems Canada, Vancouver International Airport is a global leader in using IP-based services to transform its operations. "By migrating from 23 disparate networks to a single, integrated, multi-service communications environment, Vancouver International Airport has built the dynamic network foundation to drive innovation."

"In 2000 TELUS embarked on a strategy to 'unleash the power of the Internet' to deliver the best solutions to Canadians at work, at home and on the move," says Joe Natale, president of TELUS Business Solutions. "That strategy is very much behind our efforts to work collaboratively with partners like Vancouver International Airport and Cisco. Our ability to create next generation applications demonstrates just how far that vision has come and, far beyond cost efficiencies alone, the tremendous innovation IP technologies drive and enable."

Industry-Leading Innovation

"We have built a network that can handle future growth and incorporate innovative, new applications as they become available. By taking advantage of network-based services to drive efficiency and capacity to new levels, we will be able to avoid building costly new facilities for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," explains Molloy. "For instance, self-service kiosks will be strategically deployed at hotels, train stations and other facilities throughout the greater Vancouver area. This will allow Olympic visitors to check in for their flights before they even leave for the airport."

Vancouver Airport's integrated network and ongoing IP strategy is enabling a number of industry-leading services, including:

- Common-use Platforms: Instead of using proprietary equipment, Vancouver International Airport has developed a common-use platform for the check-in process, from traditional airline counters to self-service kiosks. The common-use model is significantly more flexible and efficient, driving increased passenger processing capability and improved use of space.

- Self-Service Kiosks: Vancouver International Airport was the first airport in North America to introduce common-use kiosks and continues to lead the industry in their deployment. The airport introduced the kiosks in November 2002 as part of a registered International Air Transport Association (IATA) beta program leading to the ratification of the IATA Common-Use Self-Service standard in June 2003. The airport now has 60 kiosks located throughout the terminals. To further extend these capabilities, check-in kiosks are being installed at off-airport locations, including car rental facilities, downtown hotels, conference centres and even cruise ships en route to Vancouver via satellite connection.

- Wireless Baggage Reconciliation: A highly secure, campus-wide Cisco wireless network is enabling a wireless baggage reconciliation service that allows airlines to scan and track baggage using the wireless network. Vancouver International Airport is one of the first North American airports to endorse wireless baggage reconciliation.

- Nexus Air: Vancouver International Airport was chosen as the only airport in North America to pilot Nexus Air, a joint program of U.S. and Canadian border agencies which eases the process of flying to and from the United States for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Nexus Air uses biometric iris recognition technology that enables passengers to bypass border line-ups by using automated kiosks to answer questions similar to those an inspection officer would ask when coming into Canada or leaving Vancouver for a U.S. destination. Nexus complements the Canpass Air program, which uses the same technology and can be used for members returning to Canada from U.S. and international destinations.