The National Academies

ACRP 03-57 [Completed]

A Guidebook to Prepare Airports for Transformations in Wireless Connectivity

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: Symantics, LLC
Principal Investigator: Antonio Correas
Effective Date: 6/22/2020
Completion Date: 12/21/2021

Wireless connectivity and real-time interfaces can provide a wide range of capabilities and benefits for airport operators and users. Airport staff and stakeholders, including passengers, pilots, and service providers, stand to benefit from advancements in wireless technologies to foster a more curated passenger experience and safe and efficient airport operations. As wireless technologies advance, services will migrate from 4G to 5G networks or other platforms, calling for new improved connectivity.
Research is needed to help airport decision-makers prepare for and evaluate the impacts of emerging wireless technologies on their operational and financial investment opportunities. The research should also bridge the gap between their existing wireless network infrastructure and the future requirements.  

The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that provides airport industry practitioners with a foundation for easily scalable solutions to accommodate evolving wireless technologies. This guidebook should be for all types and sizes of airports and should include, at a minimum, the following information: 
  • Requirements for airport technology and spatial infrastructure to enable future ubiquitous, higher bandwidth, wireless connectivity and real-time data transfer; 
  • An understanding of co-locations and retrofit of current systems (e.g., placing the radios on existing stop lights or street light infrastructure that is already in place) to leverage existing resources;
  • An operational transition plan for incorporation of new capabilities to existing technology;
  • Identification of the levels of financial investment required for differing technologies that includes a menu of options and a demonstration of the best return on investment and associated timeline; 
  • An all-encompassing cybersecurity plan to protect data throughout the entire lifecycle; and
  • End-state user application examples and benefits for various airport stakeholders including, but not limited to:
    • passenger and tenant experience,
    • airport operations,
    • safety and security,
    • asset management, and
    • disaster preparedness and recovery.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include appropriate deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at minimum: (1) detailed examples of lessons learned from current applications and emerging wireless technology implementation at airports or other transportation systems; (2) an annotated outline of the guidebook; and (3) an interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks.
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.
The final deliverables will include: (1) the guidebook that meets the stated objective and includes a glossary of terms; (2) an electronic copy of a summary PowerPoint presentation that could be used for informing airport decision-makers on the viability of the proposed solutions; (3) (a) a Summary of Key Findings (see Special Note D); (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo (see Special Note E); and (c) a technical memo titled: “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note F).
STATUS: The research is completed; publication process is underway. 

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