Making Connections

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2009-06-01 Print this article Print

At Los Angeles World Airports, the IT organization is laying the groundwork to become the world’s most technologically advanced airport.


LAWA utilizes a combination of equipment in its 10 Gigabit Ethernet network. “We use mostly Cisco equipment, as Cisco is our network standard, but we also use Extreme Networks equipment at the Tom Bradley terminal,” Nessi says.

Currently, the network connects LAX with LAWA’s other airports. However, management is considering making this network available to the 70 or so airlines that use the airports.

“This is not a technology issue, it’s a business-model issue,” Nessi explains. “What would the airlines like to get from us, how much can we charge them, what will it cost to share the bandwidth that we have and do we even have excess capacity? We’re looking at all these issues right now.

“There are some really interesting things happening in the airport industry. A lot of wireless is being deployed, particularly in baggage-handling areas, and a lot of handheld devices are being used to monitor and check bags. In fact, some planes are their own network. When they come into a gate, the planes can make a wireless connection and order parts. They can even remind the maintenance folks what maintenance is required and whether parts are on the way.”

LAWA is relying more and more on technology for virtually everything, and a wireless network is going to be critical, according to Nessi, who offered this example of what’s being done today at the Bradley terminal: “We have devices we call COWs, or common use on wheels. If a ticket line is too long, an available ticket agent can wheel a wireless COW right to the passengers who haven’t made it to the desk area yet. The COWs tie into our common-use systems and have the flight information display screen right on top.”

Currently, the COWs are used only in the Bradley terminal, but LAWA is planning to expand their use. “We’re basically going to go through the four terminals we own,” Nessi says. “The other five terminals are owned by airlines or airline cooperative associations. We’ll extend common use where it makes sense, and, little by little, we’ll be migrating COWs and other technologies throughout the terminals that we own, as well as to any that we reacquire.”

These technologies are—and will continue to be—billed back to the airlines on a utility basis.

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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