Orlando International Airport (MCO) Helps Travelers Navigate To Their Destination Using Aruba Networks Wi-Fi And Mobile Engagement App
Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN) today announced that Orlando International Airport (MCO), one of the busiest airports in the United States, is delivering free Wi-Fi and a new mobile engagement app to airport travelers using Aruba Networks’ wireless infrastructure and Mobile Engagement solution.
The combination of the Wi-Fi network and new mobile app allows travelers to easily locate their ticket counter, terminal or gate, check their flight information, find restaurants and shops, and even locate the correct baggage claim upon arrival. The app is the first in the air transportation industry to feature a “blue dot” experience, similar to GPS navigation, to indicate a traveler’s position and provide them with a path to a selected point of interest in all terminals of the airport.
Managed by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), Orlando International hosts a mix of approximately 125,000 business and leisure travelers daily. Orlando is the number one family destination in the U.S. and boasts the country’s second largest convention center.
With a reputation for technological innovation, GOAA, which had already deployed an Aruba wireless LAN for guest Wi-Fi and airport operations, wanted to ensure that travelers could not only use the airport’s free Wi-Fi to check email and access the Internet, but could obtain valuable information and services via an airport mobile app. GOAA selected the Aruba Mobile Engagement solution, which consists of Aruba Wi-Fi, indoor location-based services powered by Aruba Beacons and Aruba Meridian Mobile App Platform. Working with Aruba partner, Faith Group, GOAA developed a robust mobile app designed to deliver critical airport, flight and navigation information for travelers, as well as airport tenants and vendors.
“We’re really in a constant state of change driven by our airport passengers and visitors, as well as our own operations,” said John Newsome, Director of Information Technology for GOAA. “The traveling public has come to expect reliable, high-performing Wi-Fi wherever they are in the airport and with the number of devices we’ve seen connecting to our network – as many as 14,000 in one day and at peak times, 3,000 devices connecting simultaneously – we knew the underlying infrastructure was critical to success.”
Newsome noted that the airport intends to upgrade its Aruba wireless LAN to support 802.11ac for higher bandwidth and performance across the airport, but also wanted to offer travelers a mobile app that could deliver value-added services and information.
“We saw approximately 2,600 downloads of the app in the first three weeks of launching,” Newsome said. “The app is already getting great reviews and we are paying close attention to feedback so we can continue improving it.”
In addition to offering Wi-Fi and the mobile app to its visitors and airport tenants, Orlando International also relies on the wireless network for its own operations. Airport personnel use Wi-Fi connected tablets and smartphones for duties like reporting conditions on the airfield and support of maintenance activities as well as baggage reconciliation on the ramps, and to check-in passengers. Passengers have free access to the Internet in all areas of the airport including airline club rooms and gate hold rooms.
The airport’s deployment currently consists of more than 1,000 Aruba access points, Aruba Mobility Controllers, AirWavenetwork management, approximately 1,000 Aruba Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons and the Meridian-powered application.
GOAA plans to upgrade its wireless infrastructure with all APs converted to 802.11ac by the end of 2016. Newsome expects that GOAA will double the amount of beacons deployed and continue to add features to the mobile app. The airport is also building intermodal transportation facilities and a large garage to the south of the terminals, as well as an automated people-mover to connect those facilities to the current terminals. These combined projects will allow the introduction of rail systems, add additional parking capacity and will become critical components of the overall infrastructure and, according to Newsome, will make the mobile app even more useful.
“The expectation is that passengers moving from the station and associated parking garage can check-in there and navigate to their desired locations in the airport,” he said.
“Orlando International Airport is leading the way in demonstrating how large public venues like airports can use wireless and mobile technology to enhance and improve operations while meeting the ever-increasing demands of the traveling public,” said Bobby Conway, Operations Director, Aruba Networks. “We’re seeing more airports like Orlando International using Aruba wireless infrastructure and Mobile Engagement to move beyond free Wi-Fi and give their customers powerful tools like a mobile app that make travel easier and more pleasurable.”