Acsa's R80m IT spend just a start

Johannesburg, 13 Jun 2008

The Airports Company of SA (Acsa) spent R80 million of its capital expenditure budget on IT in the last financial year and will spend more in the coming period to be 2010-ready.

Acsa is currently in a R21.9 billion five-year spending programme to get its 10 airports ready for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

The airports company yesterday showcased some of the technology at OR Tambo International Airport.

Airport GM Christopher Hlekane said some projects that had been scheduled to run until 2012 had been brought forward for the football spectacular.

The upgrades involve both front- and back-office. Work on the latter includes a server virtualisation project completed in March. The migration to new HP Blade servers will be complete by September.

A VOIP telephony project is also under way and should be complete next month, says Acsa spokesperson Tasniem Patel. Phase one was completed in March last year, she adds, and involved GijimaAst installing Cisco IP phones for all Acsa offices at OR Tambo. Phase two, due for completion in mid-July, involved a further roll-out of phones and the activation of a Cisco call centre.

On the front line, Acsa has been collaborating with the airlines to move to e-ticketing and self-service as part of a global International Air Transport Association (IATA) initiative to cut costs in the airline industry, which is reeling from soaring fuel prices.

Hlekane says passengers would have noticed projects such as the Common Use Self-Service (CUSS) system that has already been implemented in partnership with select airlines for both domestic and international travellers who want to by-pass check-in queues.

Those who prefer checking in the old-fashioned way are benefiting from 'CUTE', the new Common Use Terminal Equipment system installed in OR Tambo's domestic terminal which will go live at the end of next month.

CUSS and CUTE are both IATA programmes aimed at simplifying airline business processes and integrate with the airline's departure control and reservation systems.

Passenger flow past security checkpoints - which has proliferated since 2001 - has also received attention. "We have been piloting a queue management system at security checkpoints that alert on duty supervisors that queues are reaching unacceptable lengths. They in turn deploy staff and open additional checkpoints to process high volumes of passengers," says Hlekane.

Passengers waiting to board planes will from the end of this month benefit from a revamped WiFi network.

Hlekane says technology is also helping in its parkades. "The bay detection project, which is currently being implemented in parking facilities around the airport, has already received positive feedback from visitors to the airport.

"Sensors above parking bays activate lights that turn from green to red when occupied by vehicles. The lights make it easier for drivers to locate empty parking bays, and in turn mean the facilities are utilised more effectively."

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