“What we are doing is amazing in the network project with CAE. Edinburgh Airport has an old, complex, and difficult to manage network. Working with CAE we’ve designed, built, and implemented a new network using cutting edge Cisco technology. We’ve worked very closely with CAE to design and implement that. We wanted a technology partner that we can trust and work closely with and CAE is an incredible partner for us. Their technical skill and level of understanding are phenomenal.” - Denis McIlroy Head of IT

Flying high on the winds of change

Enabling 37 airlines to transport 14.7 million passengers to 158 global destinations every year, Edinburgh Airport is the busiest airport in Scotland, and the sixth busiest in the UK. As passenger numbers rapidly grew and existing IT infrastructure became increasingly complicated and constrained, Edinburgh Airport looked to the future. CAE was there to support its plans as they took flight. 

When Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) took ownership of Edinburgh Airport in 2012, they faced rapid, sustained and sometimes unexpected growth, with passenger numbers increasing by up to one million per year. As the existing infrastructure began to feel the strain, GIP committed to a £150 million investment and created its 2016-2040 Masterplan, a forward-thinking document that focused on innovation, development, and opportunity across the entire business. Part of this long-term vision was to modernise the way IT services are delivered and consumed at the airport in preparation for future requirements. 

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Identifying the right destination 

Edinburgh Airport spotted an opportunity to not only support the business in meeting future requirements, but to monetise the new improved network. By offering third parties the opportunity to run their own internal technology and customer Wi-Fi from the improved network, revenue could be gained back from the airport’s investment. As well as improving ROI, supplying all third parties with internet connectivity simplified the system, removing the need for many disparate connections. 

Together, CAE and Edinburgh Airport identified this project as a strategic opportunity to deliver a Software Defined Network (SDN) which was centralised, simplified, and secured campus wide. With a 10-year timeline for use and ROI, the refresh began in 2019, and CAE advised that not adopting SDN at the point of the proposal risked falling behind the industry standard. 

The changes made to the network have already allowed IT services to be delivered and updated efficiently, increased the agility of the environment to improve service delivery, and enabled Edinburgh Airport to deploy and integrate third party solutions in hours not days. 

Simplifying the systems has been crucial following staff cuts and shortages due to furlough, making it easier for the remaining small team to operate. Changes are now made with the click of a button instead of requiring pages of code. 

Flying into the future 

The new network enhances the passenger experience with consistent, reliable customer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beaconing, and airport wayfinding tools. 

In the future, there is significant abstracted value Edinburgh Airport can offer retailers over the top of the network. They will be empowered to provide insights over time and better understand people’s behaviour patterns which can provide context to retailers and hospitality venues, or trigger actions in other systems. There are several relevant use cases, from social distancing and occupancy monitoring to customer engagement and digital signage. 

Download and read our full Edinburgh Airport customer story below.