When the Malaysian Airlines plane went missing last week, you better believe both the originating and destination airports were slammed with calls. The main Malaysian Airlines telephone network was also likely taxed as the whole world watched and wondered what happened to the missing plane.
While hopefully a disaster such as a missing plane will not happen again in the future, having a flexible and reliable phone network in place at airports is clearly an important foundation for communication in even lesser challenges. Aviation is not something to be taken casually, and this extends all the way down to the phone system airports and individual air carriers use.
Recently the George Best Belfast City Airport in Ireland paved the way for other airports to follow suit when it comes to having a robust communications solution in place; the regional airport just finished replacing its traditional phone system with a virtual PBX solution in the cloud.
“The existing infrastructure and on-premises PBX (News - Alert) telephone system at Belfast City Airport could no longer handle the needs of the 1,500 employees and eight buildings spread across the airport's 100,000 square foot facility," said Terry Moore, CEO of Outsource Solutions, Belfast City Airport's IT provider.
One problem with the old system was that it required expensive engineering for even simple administrative changes, making it inflexible. It also had limited expandability, and was vulnerable to disruption if a disaster struck the airport. Further, the old system lacked detailed reporting and analytics capabilities, which were necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of aspects of the airport’s customer service.
After assessing its options, the airport went with a cloud-based communications solution by hosted VoIP provider 8x8 (News - Alert).
With a cloud solution, first of all disaster recovery is made easier because none of the infrastructure is on-site. Relying on a cloud-based phone solution makes the system a lot more resilient.
It also makes it flexible, since cloud-based phone systems can be scaled up or down at will. This flexibility surely would have stood Malaysian Airlines in good stead in the face of its recent airplane disappearance.
Reporting and analytics are more robust on average with VoIP, too, and making changes can usually be done instantly through a cloud control panel instead of requiring IT support.
In the case of Belfast City Airport, the new cloud-based phone system not only handles the airport's present needs but also scales to handle future requirements, seasonality and VIP communications with full wallboard and call statistics reporting. In addition, the airport can now accurately measure, rate and analyze telephone-based service aspects, along with providing real-time reporting and analytics.
Not all airlines are created equal, and neither are phone systems.
Edited by Alisen Downey