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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.

"Airports are challenging in terms of upgrade deployments regardless, but in this case, [they are also doing] a big expansion of this airport in preparation for the Olympics and anticipation of a huge uptick of network use with more people passing through the airport bringing more devices being heavily engaged with what will be going on event-wise," says Nolan Greene, senior research analyst in network infrastructure at IDC.

The Aruba platform will give the airport the cohesive network it needs, plus stronger data center and Wi-Fi infrastructure, says Villeroy, which will make the business of being an airport easier on airlines and retail partners while providing Wi-Fi for visitors, too.

The mobile app is designed to help passengers have a better experience -- even before they get there "considering the traffic in the city," Villeroy says. The app has integrated capabilities of Waze and Google Maps to estimate how long it will take you to get to the airport.

Once at the airport, you can track flights, see gate changes and find flight information without having to look for a departure or arrival board. "The idea is to remove and reduce [the] hassles of trying to figure out if anything has changed with your flight," he adds.

If you turn on location services, you can also be directed to places within the airport and know how long it will take to get there, aided by Aruba's Meridian Location services and those 3,000 beacons that were included in the upgrade.

"It will point them to airport services and help guide them through what is a very large and possibly confusing airport," says Greene and can also "direct them toward restaurants, shops [and] tourist venues based on contextual information." He adds that this could be a revenue opportunity for the airport and "part of the justification for this large investment."

Looking beyond the Olympics

Villeroy says that this wasn't done specifically for the Olympics, but it was one of the impetuses, and gave them a deadline. Yearly passenger traffic has reached 17 million people, and about 1.5 million more are expected for the Olympics.

"It's part of what we need and the foundation for the next 25 to 30 years," he says. "We want to [create] the best experiences for the passengers."

And while the spike in travelers will die down after the closing ceremonies, the changes should help people flying in and out of Rio for years to come.

"Olympics or no, it's a big airport and the largest city in the country, so it's going to have a lot of traffic," says Greene. "Business travelers who need to be connected whenever, wherever are going to appreciate this."

Source: CIO New Zealand


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