Calgary International Airport

An unparalleled customer experience guided by one of North America's top airports.

Putting the customer first

YYC logoThe “North Star” is what Calgary International Airport calls its guiding principle – putting the customer first. It’s an operational compass turning the airport into a world-class, hospitality-focused enterprise. The Calgary facility is on a multi-year trajectory to create memorable airport experiences that reflect the region’s legendary western hospitality and natural beauty.

  • Seamless terminal operations designed to make every visit to the airport a positive one
  • Efficient passenger transitions that emphasize safety and predictability
  • Smooth communications between airport staff to optimize customer service and convenience

Operating a world-class airport requires world-class communications

Celebrated as one of Canada’s top four airports, the Calgary International Airport has long been an ambassador for the western province of Alberta. It’s operated by the Calgary Airport Authority under a governmental mandate to manage the facility in a safe, secure, and efficient manner, providing customers with the best possible experience.

To help achieve the “North Star” mission, airport executives are utilizing an IT strategy that leverages advanced technology solutions to improve operational efficiency, visitor safety, and customer experience. One such solution is the Instant Connect Enterprise™ interoperable communications platform, which provides the Terminal Operations organization with a centralized communications environment that links airport workers via radio, mobile devices, and dispatch.

Instant Connect Devices“The Instant Connect software platform is mission-critical infrastructure for the personnel in our Operations Center,” says Mike Heath, General Manager of Technical Infrastructure. “It gives them centralized command-and-control over our radio system, integrated with our PC and VoIP environments. This centralized approach improves our ability to operate the airport, and directly impacts our ‘life safety’ activities for guests, partners, and staff.”

For Bernadette Kirk, General Manager of Terminal Operations, the communications platform is integral to her business team’s ability to put the customer first. “Instant Connect is helping the airport run smoother with improved collaboration, more efficient workflows, and centralized command of all key communications. It has generated a lot of trust by our staff, based on its reliability and ease-of-use.”

Benefits to the airport include

  • Significantly reducing communications gaps between operations teams
  • Improving speed and efficiency of service to customers
  • Accelerating medical and airfield emergency response, whether in the terminal or on the tarmac
  • Better communication with airside to enhance the scheduling and execution of surface management activities (cleaning runways, taxiways, tarmacs) – this can improve runway uptime and flight schedules in a region known for inclement weather
  • Utilizing “all call” announcements that can instantly mobilize teams in response to updates, such as weather warnings and other events
  • Enhancing interoperability with local and regional agencies (such as Police and Fire) to assure compliance with governmental mandates

"We are the promise-keepers. Our team wants to make sure the customer experience is as seamless as possible. Instant Connect helps us make this happen. It’s a vital day-to-day solution in our Integrated Operations Center to help keep all key staff connected and collaborating efficiently."

Bernadette Kirk - GM, Terminal Operations

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Terminal Operations and IT

Terminal Operations and IT

At Calgary International Airport, these two teams are working seamlessly together:

  • Serving 18+ million passengers (2019) guided by the airport’s “North Star” commitment
  • Utilizing mission-critical communications across 5,144 acres of airport property – both terminal and airside
  • Leveraging proven communications technology like the Instant Connect Enterprise™ platform to help drive safety, security, and efficiency

Keeping airport operations flying smoothly

The Integrated Operations Center (IOC) is a command-and-control facility that acts as the heartbeat of the airport, monitoring and managing all key activities across the 5,000+ acre site. Instant Connect communications software plays a key role, keeping everyone connected and giving the IOC team a single view into all real-time radio communications. “We can manage all vital radio communications from a single system and this integrated approach is enormously advantageous for our IOC team,” says Bernadette.

  • Tactical channels that can save lives. The airport uses multiple “all call” channels to instantly notify all key stakeholders when there is an incident or emergency that needs immediate response. When speed is critical, the airport counts on Instant Connect to mobilize its team.
  • Police and Fire. The IOC can instantly expand the radio network to include connection with local police and fire agencies as needed. Help from first responders is just a push-button away.
  • Proactive. Using Instant Connect, the IOC team can monitor the Tower’s air-to-ground communications frequency (receive mode only) to monitor real-time aviation events and conditions.  Airport staff can then react proactively with appropriate operations or maintenance activities.
  • Push and go. Broadcast communications and notices are critical in a busy airport like this one.  With a single push-of-a-button, Instant Connect can send pre-recorded announcements and policy pushes out to any number of targeted constituents, whether internal (staff) or external (staff and public). These can include weather warnings, reduced visibility, or other news that needs immediate distribution.

"The Operations side of the airport has adopted Instant Connect as their own. Our IT team recommended and implemented this solution, and it’s gratifying to have it embraced and appreciated as a purpose-built business solution."

Mike Heath - GM of Technical Infrastructure

A proven track record

Mike points to a number of advantages when using a proven, easy-to-use solution like Instant Connect.

  • High user satisfaction. More than 50 personnel within the IOC and management teams use and manage Instant Connect on a daily basis. More than 1,000 additional radio subscribers throughout the airport are serviced by the Instant Connect platform. The entire workforce is positively impacted by airport’s integrated approach to communications.
  • Low infrastructure costs. The IT team likes that Instant Connect runs on low overhead. The software is virtually maintenance-free, which liberates the IT team to focus on other strategic initiatives for the airport.
  • Excellent reliability. “Mission-critical infrastructure needs to be rock solid,” says Mike. “Instant Connect runs day in and day out with very limited maintenance from my team.”
  • Hassle-free training.  Training requirements are low, thanks to the intuitive interface. This is particularly helpful to the airport when staff gets switched out and new operators need to be onboarded.

Looking ahead

Ask Mike about the future and he’ll get right to the point. “Our goal is to leverage data about our operations and turn it into insight.  As an integrated communications platform, Instant Connect has – and will continue to – help us make smarter and faster decisions.” This might include:

  • Smarter decisions around when and where to dispatch maintenance crews from the IOC command center
  • Leveraging Instant Connect to instantly turn mobile phones into push-to-talk (PTT) radio devices, augmenting radio and broadening the airport’s overall communications footprint
  • Using BYOD strategies for the airport’s “white hat” concierge folks, who are the face of the airport’s customer-centric approach. Instead of carrying both a personal phone and an airport-provided radio, all they would need is their personal phone with the Instant Connect mobile app

“We still haven’t fully implemented some of the mobile and desktop features that Instant Connect offers,” says Mike.  “We’re looking forward to unlocking the full potential of the platform.”