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Rio’s airport preps for Olympics with new Wi-Fi network and mobile app

Jen A. Miller | June 30, 2016
With the 2016 Olympic Games promising to bring millions of visitors to Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport, its CIO initiated a huge wireless network upgrade and a new mobile app.

The 2016 Olympics Games are already off to a rough start -- and we haven't even seen opening ceremonies yet. Worries about the Zika virus, polluted competition waters, doping scandals and Rio's precarious finances could mean a complicated time in August for the Summer Games.

One thing thing poised to go well: communication at Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport, Brazil's biggest airport and how most people will get into the country for the games.

riogaleo per sul fachada foto thiago saramago caf das 4

To be ready for the 2016 Olympics -- and beyond -- airport desperately needed a new wireless network -- and a mobile app wouldn't be a bad idea either.

"The network was very old," Alexandre Villeroy, CIO of the airport, tells What it had was a mix of legacy systems that had been patched together. He says it was so bad that they just about had to start from scratch. He knew that as is, "[it was not a system they could] rely on for the next 30 years" -- and that wasn't even factoring in the Olympics, which was about to bring a lot of people into the country.

An Olympic-sized fix

The solution to problem came from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) via the Aruba 200 Series 80211ac access points and the 7200 Series Mobility Controller, HPE FlexNetwork 5130 HI Series switches, HPE FlexFabric 7910 switch chassis and HPE/Aruba network management software, which was all used to replace outdated and legacy infrastructure.

HPE also built an app tied to Aruba's Mobile Engagement Solution that includes more than 3,000 Aruba Beacons and the Meridian Mobile App Platform.

A spokeswoman from HPE declined to say how much the solution and app costs, but she did write in an email that this upgrade is part of a 25-year plan to invest $5.2 billion in the airport, and out of this, about $2 billion will be invested by the Olympic Games. "This total includes their major construction efforts as well as infrastructure upgrades," she added. Construction includes a 100,000 square meter expansion project.

Airport tech necessities

A lot goes on at airports in addition to planes coming and going. The network is used by airlines, security, immigration, stores, concessions and passengers. At the Olympics' peak, the airport expects to have 90,000 visitors a day, double the usual number.

riogaleo airport mobile app

The Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport mobile app is designed to help passengers navigate traffic to the airport, track flights, and find restaurants, shops and tourist venues based on contextual information. (Click for larger image.)


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