Longreach Airport has adopted Vertiv’s SmartCabinet mobile datacentre offering, a drier to help deal with the region’s unique environmental challenges – including wildlife intrusion and extreme temperatures.

The enclosed, mobile facility with remote central monitoring is running systems including CCTV, access control and connections to corporate systems across the airport. Its installation removes the requirement for staff to sweep the server room for bugs and restart systems daily.

Located 700 kilometres from the coast, Longreach is known as the ‘heart’ of Queensland. The airport serves more than 3,000 passengers every month and is a hub for travellers seeking the outback experience in western Queensland. The town is one of Australia’s oldest aviation hubs and the airport was one of the founding centres for Qantas. The current facility, constructed in 2012, is owned and operated by Queensland Airports Limited.

Bugs, including crickets and grasshoppers, are common in the region, with the worst locust plague Longreach had experienced in 30 years occurring in 2010. These bugs can creep into IT systems and cause them to crash, forcing the airport to sweep them out every two months. The Vertiv SmartCabinet’s enclosed and secure design now prevents this from happening.

The area also suffers from extreme temperatures that can see highs of more than 45 degrees and lows below zero, putting pressure on IT systems and previously forcing the airport to constantly replace its key IT infrastructure and restart systems daily. Outages have the potential to delay flights and require regular early starts for the airport’s staff.

Longreach Airport chief operating officer Kevin Gill said the Vertiv SmartCabinet had answered some of the toughest questions the environment asks of the regional airport team. “Our systems are now operating well, even during the summer’s most extreme temperatures,” he said.

“As a small regional airport, the airport team is small in size, but procedures around check-in, security, departure, baggage, and everything else, are the same as in larger airports. It is vital technology doesn’t get in the way and instead enables staff and makes them more effective and mobile,” said Gill.

Turning to IoT

With the airport free from its IT challenges, it has increased its focus on IoT, opening its data to universities and industry to trial initiatives in areas such as video analytics, and then sharing results with the local community.

The Queensland Airports Limited team is also looking at how energy monitoring can be improved across its regional airports, adding to solar panel systems already in place in Longreach and Mount Isa.

“Longreach faces a range of typical airport challenges as well as unique ones not encountered by the world’s largest airports,” said Robert Linsdell, managing director of the Australia and New Zealand operations of Vertiv. “This was well illustrated by a curious emu who kept a close eye throughout the installation.

“The airport is putting the right infrastructure in place to ensure its IoT and smart city initiatives work and bring benefits not just to passengers and staff, but the wider Longreach community. The model of more robust IT infrastructure coupled with remote central monitoring could bring similar benefits to other regional airports and transport hubs, which often face challenges around climate and sparse technical staff.”

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