Flexible operator workspace helps to streamline Heathrow operation

Heathrow, UK - 2023
Operators at the upgraded Heathrow Airport Operations Center (APOC) now benefit from Barco OpSpace to get a complete picture of the airport and to streamline operations based on information coming from multiple stakeholders.
  • Reducing monitor clutter by 50%
  • Viewing multiple applications on a single screen
  • Controlling all systems and sources with a single keyboard and mouse
  • Hardware taking up 50% less space in the server room
As one of the busiest airports in Europe, Heathrow welcomes tens of millions of passengers a year, flying to over 200 destinations worldwide. More than 60,000 people working at 400 organizations make sure the airport operations run like clockwork. The central decision-making unit, where all these activities are coordinated, is Heathrow’s Airport Operations Centre (APOC), established in 2014.

Collaborative decision-making

The APOC brings Heathrow together in a single room with all their important airport stakeholders, including airlines, NATS, Border Force, the Metropolitan Police and the Highways Agency. They make sure that every step of the passenger’s journey is managed and optimized. APOC operators have a complete picture of Heathrow and make proactive decisions based on a variety of information systems and data sources. This includes passenger traffic, gate allocation, road traffic, security cameras, weather information, baggage systems, IT & engineering systems, social media and much more. OpSpace securely brings together all information & systems required in front of the controller while still maintaining network separation between the various departments and agencies involved.

KVM switches and multiple monitors

Since the start of the centralized APOC in 2014, operators had been using KVM (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switches to control and interact with their data sources on the screen. This enabled them to control multiple sources coming from multiple networks with one keyboard and mouse. Since everything ran over the network, it was also possible to store PC hardware in separate server rooms, away from the operator desk. However, the KVM system still had limitations. For example, it was not possible to show multiple sources on one monitor and switching from one source to another on the same screen still required operators to make a manual switch. This also meant that operators needed extra displays to show more applications.

50% less monitors

“The strength of Barco OpSpace is that it can bring much more applications into the operator’s view that can be controlled with a single keyboard and mouse,” says Michael Keane (Business Development Director, Ajar Technology). “This way, we have been able to reduce the required number of monitors by 50%. APOC operators now have a much more ergonomic and user-friendly setup to work in.”

Multiple applications in one pixel space

Heathrow operators now use Barco OpSpace in two connected locations – in the main APOC control room (35 operator seats) and in the backup facility Distributed across the APOC’s different departments, over 200 data and video sources are monitored daily. Operators can now view multiple applications on a single screen and call any application into their front view with a single mouse click. Operators each have a unique profile and they can build their own specific workspace layout, which they can replicate upon logging onto any network-connected workstation.

“The capability to set-up with only 3 monitors on the operator desk has been a true game-changer,” says Michael Keane. “Operators now have visibility to much more applications in an ergonomically friendly workspace.”

Reliable and scalable

Just like the previous KVM-over-IP system, the OpSpace hardware can be conveniently placed in a separate server room, or data centre away from the actual control room. But Barco OpSpace is also more efficient in other ways. Integrator Ajar Technologies reported that the Barco OpSpace hardware took up 50% less room, consumed 50% less power and required 50% less cooling compared to the replaced system.

With Barco OpSpace, the APOC is ready for the future too. In addition to the solution’s high reliability and uptime, the Heathrow team especially appreciated that Barco OpSpace is fully scalable. The system can easily be extended over the network to other locations while using the same functionality.

“Barco OpSpace has enabled Heathrow APOC to reduce the number of desk monitors by 50%.
Compared to former KVM system, OpSpace can bring much more applications into operator’s view that can be controlled with a single keyboard & mouse.”
 _Michael Keane_