Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) and Belgian telecom operator Telenet are announcing the signature of a strategic partnership today with regard to the Internet of Things (IoT). This five-year collaboration aims to make BSCA a true ‘digital dome‘. Its main objective is to optimise the running of the airport and to improve the passengers’ experience from home right up to the boarding gate, thanks to digital solutions such as smart parking, optimisation of the Wi-Fi network available to the public, and the analysis of visitor location data.
BSCA, the second largest airport in Belgium and a true economic driver for the entire Walloon Region, has experienced a rapid growth of its activities in the past few years, with a continuing record number of visitors. Every day, some 25,000 passengers visit the airport. In order to improve the experience of travellers and visitors passing through its installations, the group intends to go a step further in its development by becoming a true smart airport, providing its customers with additional services and an innovative experience.
As for Telenet, a key player in telecommunications and new technologies in Belgium (operating under the BASE and Telenet brands), it would like to play a more active role in the development of digital projects in Wallonia.
Today, the two companies have decided to form a five-year strategic partnership aimed at setting up a new ecosystem to enable the development of solutions based on IoT, which will enrich the ‘CRL Airport’ application, for instance, that was launched by BSCA last June. This application is poised to become the heart of the passenger experience, and a source of extremely important data for the airport.
The partnership will initially focus on two concrete solutions
Passenger flow analysis BSCA and Telenet will develop a passenger and visitor flow mapping and analysis solution, which should allow BSCA management to better understand, manage, market and improve the general public’s movements in the airport.
Telenet will initially improve and increase the density of the airport’s Wi-Fi network and then provide BSCA with the location data of its visitors. BSCA’s management will then be able to study their movements in order to optimise airport organisation, offer them personalised services and guide them throughout their journey. Telenet hopes to finalise the improvement of the Wi-Fi network and provide the airport with the first set of data in the course of 2019.
Connected smart parking system
Following a satisfaction survey carried out by BSCA, parking is currently the main stress factor for passengers and visitors to the airport. Telenet and BSCA are therefore also going to develop a parking system together, aimed at considerably improving the user experience. It will therefore be possible to reserve and pay for a parking space online using the application. Smart cameras will then automatically recognise the registration plate at the car park entrance, while sensors connected by Telenet’s NB-IoT network will indicate free spaces. A first set of 500 spaces should be made available through this new system as of the summer of 2019.
Making BSCA a hub in terms of innovation
The partnership’s ambitions won’t be limited to these two solutions, however: the objective is to pursue the development of IoT solutions at the BSCA site as well as enabling the enrichment of the CRL Airport application.
But the two partners are aiming higher, and hope to make the airport a real hub for IoT solutions on a regional scale. Last June, Telenet opted for Microsoft’s platform in order to develop its IoT solutions, a particularly user-friendly platform which should allow Telenet and BSCA to attract other companies, start-ups and universities who would like to experiment and develop new services and applications within the airport.
Jean-Jacques Cloquet, CEO of Brussels South Charleroi Airport plc, says: “We’re delighted to have concluded this partnership with Telenet. We’re at the dawn of a new era in terms of technology, thanks to this partnership, with the aim of improving passenger services. It’s important to us to facilitate the journey of people passing through our installations and now, thanks to Telenet, we can help them from their home to the plane. Becoming a connected airport was one of our priorities, and now we have the first stone that will allow us to build the BSCA digital dome, for a most pleasant passenger experience.”
John Porter, CEO Telenet adds: “We’re very happy to be able to contribute to the development of an economic hub such as BSCA. Telenet is already a major telecoms operator in Wallonia, but we would like this strategic partnership to serve as a showcase for our technological expertise, and as a starting point for the launch of new collaborations, both with private companies and the local authorities.”
Pierre-Yves Jeholet, Minister of Economy and Digital, concludes : “The transformation of Wallonia into ‘a smart and connected territory’ is essential to meet the challenges of tomorrow, whether this is related to demographics, energy, climate or other. Next to startups and companies like Telenet, who have taken the digital train, it is necessary that public authorities also become major digital players.
BSCA is an important territorial player in Wallonia and with this project, we prove that new technologies make it possible to develop new services that are useful for citizens.
Projects of the same type should see the light of day in the coming months everywhere in Wallonia. Since together with my colleague Valérie De Bue, we have planned to launch a large call for innovative projects for Walloon cities and towns in order to accelerate their development of digital transformation and support the emergence of “smart” services that are useful for citizens. “