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Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer (2012)

Chapter: Chapter 6 - IT System Architecture A Common Understanding

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Page 55
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - IT System Architecture A Common Understanding." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 56
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - IT System Architecture A Common Understanding." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 56
Page 57
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - IT System Architecture A Common Understanding." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 57
Page 58
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - IT System Architecture A Common Understanding." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14622.
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Page 58

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6.1 A Layered Architecture Airport IT systems can be very complex. They are often organized into four conceptual cate- gories and depicted in a layered fashion, as shown in Figure 6-1. The layered architecture exemplifies how the systems of one layer act as a building block for the systems in the next layer. All IT systems can be categorized into one of these four layers. The lay- ers of the architecture and the groups of systems common to them are described in the following. 6.1.1 Physical Layer The cabling and fiber infrastructure, the foundation layer all IT offerings at an airport, is made up of the non-electronic physical components, including fiber optic and copper cabling and con- duit and cross-connection structures. These form and protect the direct physical pathways over which IT systems communicate. 6.1.2 Networking Layer Communications systems encompass the electronic components that send signals over the cabling infrastructure or wireless system. These systems of the networking layer communi- cate voice, video, and data and can use the wired physical layer as well as wireless infrastructure. The physical components include switches, routers, gateways, and wireless access points that guide voice and data signals from their source to their intended destinations. These devices also enforce a substantial amount of the security policies. Systems at this layer form the networks that control the communications between all IT systems in the application layer. They include: • LAN. • Wireless LAN. • Wide area network (WAN)—wired and wireless. • Licensed wireless. As of the writing of this primer, telephony is in a state of transition from the network layer to the application layer. At the majority of airports today, telephone systems typically have their own dedicated physical cabling infrastructure and devices [e.g., private branch exchange (PBX)], which perform both network and application functions. However, many airports have already converted to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) systems, which cleanly separate the application from the network function that is now handled by the local area network. The local network can now move voice as well as video and data, and the telephone system is becoming one of many 55 C H A P T E R 6 IT System Architecture— A Common Understanding

applications on that network. Therefore, telephony has been included as an application layer sys- tem in this primer. 6.1.3 Application Layer The application layer contains all the systems that support the operations of an airport. They are often called end-user programs because the staff uses them to accomplish their missions. There are numerous applications systems. For convenience, they have been categorized here based on their commonality of purpose. • Airside systems. Airside systems, used to support an airport’s aviation needs directly, are con- cerned with the physical movement and placement of aircraft on the ground and in the air. These systems are usually located on the airfield itself in nonpublic spaces. Airside systems can include: – Resource management system. – Noise monitoring. – Airfield lighting. – Surface movement guidance and control system (SMGCS). – Automatic weather observation system (AWOS). – Surface movement radar. – Fuel monitoring system. • Landside systems. Landside IT systems are located in publicly accessible spaces, usually outside the terminal, and are not directly related to aviation operations but instead assist in passenger drop-off and pick-up at the airport. Many systems, such as automatic vehicle identification (AVI) and parking access and revenue control (PARC), generate revenue for the airport. Phys- ically, they usually provide the first airport IT interactions with passengers starting or ending their trips. Landside systems can include: – Audio paging system. – AVI. – PARC. – Roadway dynamic signage. • Passenger processing systems. With more airports adopting a common use approach to their facilities each year, passenger processing, which was once the exclusive domain of the airlines, has evolved into a new category of airport systems for processing and guiding passengers. These systems provide the means for airports to operate a flexible environment in which multiple airlines can share resources for airport ticketing, gates, or baggage. Passenger processing systems can include: – Common use passenger processing system (CUPPS). – CUSS. 56 Information Technology Systems at Airports–A Primer Figure 6-1. IT systems architecture.

– Local departure control system (LDCS). – Multi-user flight information display system (MUFIDS). – Baggage sortation/radio frequency identification (RFID). • Business/finance systems. Airport IT business/finance systems are used to meet the airport organization’s administrative needs and are tailored to fit the airport’s unique business environ- ment, although the tools are similar to those in any business, such as email, word processing, and file storage. These systems benefit the airport’s administrative staff by saving costs and time and helping with decision-making procedures. Business systems can include: – Financial management system. – Human resource management system. – Property management system. – Asset management system. – Website. – Email. – Telephony. • Safety/security systems. Safety/security systems are critical in today’s environment so that air- ports operate effectively and keep the traveling public safe. These systems provide video sur- veillance, controlled and monitored access to secure areas, and the ability to detect, announce, and control disaster situations at an airport. Safety and security systems can include: – CCTV. – Access control system (ACS). – Fire alarm. – Badging system. – Ring-down circuit. – Computer aided dispatch (CAD). – Police systems. – Fire department systems. • Facility/maintenance systems. Facility/maintenance systems ensure that mechanical systems work properly so that building environments are pleasant and functional in all conditions, and they help the airport’s staff keep the airport operating at peak performance. Facility and maintenance systems can include: – Building management system. – Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). 6.1.4 Integration Layer The systems of the integration layer allow the systems of the application layer to coordinate and share information among them. The systems can be directly linked together through the integra- tion layer or they can share a common data pool. Integration ensures that shared data is timely and accurate for all systems using the same data. The more an airport invests in its IT systems, the more that integrating these systems benefits its operations. Benefits include: • Improving staff efficiency by sharing information across both operations and administrative systems. • Simplifying information distribution to employees, management, tenants, and customers. • Providing for a higher level of redundancy, which improves system and data availability. • Using a centralized data repository and dissemination, which cuts down on human handling of data and associated errors—thus improving data accuracy and response time. • Making larger amounts of data readily available to management, allowing the organization and revenues to be fine-tuned. Table 6-1 is a matrix of most systems found at an airport. They are sorted by layer and the grouping to which they belong. An alphabetical list of these systems with a brief description can be found alphabetically in Appendix B. IT System Architecture—A Common Understanding 57

58 Information Technology Systems at Airports–A Primer Table 6-1. Airport IT systems matrix.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 59: Information Technology Systems at Airports--A Primer is designed to help facilitate mutual understanding between airport executives and information technology (IT) professionals to enable them to work together effectively on IT projects. One of the goals of the report is to help airports achieve better performance and reliability of IT systems and fewer cost overruns and delays during system implementation.

ACRP Report 59 offers techniques to identify critical IT issues and communicate effectively on those issues. The report also addresses sound IT principles for implementing new IT systems, describes the benefits and value of various IT systems, and highlights the fundamental architecture concepts of IT systems as they relate to airports.

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