Huawei to digitise Qatar's Hamad airport

Huawei is looking to implement IoT and autonomous machine prototypes throughout Qatar's Hamad airport to increase efficiency, security, and customer experience.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese networking giant Huawei has announced that it will be leading the "digital transformation" of Hamad International Airport in Qatar in an effort to improve security, customer experience, and efficiency.

Huawei, which announced entering a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Doha-based airport this week, said it will work on creating prototypes and solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous machines throughout the airport.

"The objective is to accelerate digital transformation at Hamad International Airport and to share the solutions with the community for wider benefit of the air transport industry," Huawei said.

"Through this cooperation, HIA aims to improve the passenger experience, enhance security and communication, and increase operational efficiency."

The arrangement will create a "smart airport" that can meet the future passenger flows, Huawei Enterprise Business Group president of Transportation Xilin Yuan said.

"By placing digital transformation at the heart of its commercial strategy, Hamad International Airport will deliver a user-centric connected experience," he added.

According to the airport, it will also gain access to Huawei's "niche partners" to speed up the process of concept and prototype development.

Huawei said it has provided IT products, solutions, and services for 15 airports and over 25 airlines and air traffic control authorities across the globe, including wired and wireless communications solutions, big data analytics platforms, indoor/outdoor modular datacentres, servers, storage devices, and converged cloud platforms.

Huawei, which reported a full-year net profit of 37.1 billion yuan on revenue of 521.6 billion yuan for 2016, has also delivered more than 2 million virtual machines and 420 cloud datacentres for government, utilities, telecommunications, energy, and finance companies and teamed up with some of the biggest auto companies in the world to work on connected cars.

Huawei's smart city solution, which could potentially be adapted to suit smaller ecosystems such as airports, is used in over 100 cities across more than 40 countries; its public safety solution now serves over 800 million people in more than 200 cities and 80 countries; its financial cloud and big data infrastructure is now used by more than 300 financial companies globally; its energy solution is serving more than 170 power companies across 65 different countries; and, overall, it has worked with more than 500 partners on cloud computing solutions in more than 130 countries and regions as of December.

Airports worldwide have been beginning to implement smarter, digitised systems, with Red Hat earlier this month announcing that it will be creating a multi-cloud platform for Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport based on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat JBoss Fuse, and Red Hat 3scale API platform on AWS and Azure to assist the airport in its goal to become the world's best digital airport by 2018.

Schiphol Airport has been trialling the use of low-power, long-range, wide-area network (LoRa) IoT applications with Dutch telecommunications giant KPN for such applications as smarter baggage handling for a year already.

The South Australian government also kicked off a AU$2.8 million trial of autonomous shuttles for Adelaide Airport in March this year, with the shuttles to transport passengers between the long-term car park and the airport.

If the driverless shuttle trials prove to be successful, they will become a permanent feature at the airport in replacement of its human-operated shuttle buses, reducing both carbon emissions and road congestion, and able to operate 24/7, the state government said.

The attempt to digitise airports comes as Stewart International Airport in New York was found in February to have left its server backups exposed on the internet for almost a year without password protection.

Stewart International Airport is regularly used by the military and the charter flights of foreign dignitaries, as well as commercial passengers. It had been backing up unprotected copies of its systems to a Buffalo drive installed by a third-party IT contractor.

The exposed information included the schematics of core airport infrastructure; a list of usernames and passwords for the airport's internal network; Homeland Security agencies' security plans and screening protocols; airport staff email accounts; human resources files; payroll data; inter-office memos; and a financial tracking database.

"You cannot expect one person to maintain an airport network infrastructure. Doing so is a recipe for security lapses," said Chris Vickery, lead security researcher of the MacKeeper Security Center, who analysed the exposed data and posted his findings.

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