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‘Bad weather, crisis management and incident response’: Fenner’s Airport IT keynote address

Meantime’s MD Fenner Pearson addressed a gathering of air industry senior managers and directors at the Airport IT conference in Barcelona in November.

His speech tackled the ever-present issue of crisis management and incident response, and the effective and efficient deployment of staff in an emergency. It was greeted with interest by the audience, who included representatives from global airport groups including Los Angeles, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Copenhagen.

"We’ve developed many systems for UK airport groups, including Heathrow, but I felt it was important to discuss how our systems are able to help effectively deal with crisis management,” says Fenner. “It’s something that every airport faces and can’t be avoided - but disruption can be minimised with the correct management."

Meantime’s software allows airports to instantly deploy non-operational staff to areas of the airport where they’re most needed, allowing operations managers to direct staff with specific skills such as languages and cultural knowledge to terminals where they’ll be able to provide the most assistance. The central management system allows bosses to alert staff within seconds via smartphones and tablets, and send them constant updates and instructions. The same devices are used by the staff to provide information to passengers, such as train times, hotels and alternative flights.

It was used to great effect at Heathrow during the London 2012 Olympics, when up to 250,000 passengers passed through the terminals each day, and helped ensure the smooth opening of Heathrow’s T2 in 2014.

"The system can be programmed to the airport’s own specifications, so they can add in their own priorities when it comes to selecting which staff to send where,” explains Fenner. “We currently support systems for clients who allocate reserve staff on their level of security clearance, whether they’re a member of an emergency incident response team, or whether they’re able to administer emergency first aid. There are no limits to the criteria.

"What’s important is that the airport is able to control every element of the deployment and conduct as many trials as they need to, so they can be sure when an incident does arise – whether it’s severe weather, a holiday period or a security issue - trained personnel will be there to help within minutes, or even seconds."

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