Heathrow Begins Internal Smartwatch Trials

Heathrow Begin Testing Smartwatches To Help Coordinate Snow Clearing

Heathrow’s Innovation team will begin testing the Samsung Gear S watch with a new cloud based app designed to help the stand clearance team communicate quickly with air traffic control on the progress of snow clearance.

The watch allows the snow clearing vehicles to give the snow controller in the tower accurate and real-time situational awareness of the snow clearing operations as they navigate around Heathrow’s 186 stands, across 1,227 hectares of land. The user provides the airport with an immediate situation report of the condition of the aircraft stands. The watch is faster than using the often congested radio system, which can lead to a waiting time for direction on the next stand to clear. The watch also has GPS tracking, so sends real time information on the user’s location to snow control base for further efficiency in allocation of clearance around the five square mile airport.

Because Heathrow is at 98% capacity, adverse weather such as snow can have a huge impact on daily operations. Minor delays can have a lasting knock on effect on flights because there is no slack in the system to allow the flight schedule to catch up. Efficiency and speed are crucial in clearing each aircraft stand as quickly between one aircraft departing and the next one arriving during high demand.

The purpose of the trial is to understand whether the watch will improve punctuality and better calculate the snow clearance team’s route around the airport. If successful, this watch will reduce the reliance on the trunk radio system and will both issue and confirm clearance jobs immediately to maximise efficiency and reduce aircraft waiting time.

Ricky Oakes, Winter Resilience Manager, said:

We are excited to trial the watch for the first time today. Speed and punctuality are crucial to the smooth running of an incredibly complex operation at Heathrow and the Innovation team have come up with a solution that we hope will support us enabling the airport to run as best it can during difficult weather conditions. We are eager to see the results and continue to use innovative ways to improve the service we deliver.

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk
  • Erica

    Very efficient way to communicate with air traffic control.