In an interview with Flightit.net, Pat Urbanek, Product Manager, Remote Towers at Searidge Technologies talks about the company's participation in Dubai Airport show 2015 held next month, its collaboration with Dubai airports, as well as Searidge's remote tower solutions.
Q : Please give an overview on your company’s portfolio of products.
Pat Urbanek :
Searidge Technologies is a powerhouse of intelligent and motivated people that are dedicated to improving the world of airport surface management with innovative technology.
Searidge was the first company to have an operational video system in an air traffic control tower and now with technology at over 25 sites in 16 countries, our video is viewed by the most Air Traffic Controllers (ATCO) and airport operations personnel worldwide.
Searidge has architected its solutions to be open, modular, hardware/platform agnostic, and adaptive allowing its customers complete freedom and flexibility to leverage existing infrastructure and future-proof their investments for growth and change. We have adopted a technology toolbox approach that offers a variety of innovative features and functions that can be applied to our customers’ unique requirements. Our approach to software and solution design allows us to offer fully customizable hardware, user interfaces, and specialized video applications that support any airport size and any complexity of operation.
By bringing together different pieces of technology from the Searidge toolbox, we have successfully delivered a variety of solutions to ANSPs and Airports to increase safety and efficiency at their airports.
Q : How do you view the Middle East market in the context of Airport Show 2015?
Pat Urbanek :
Searidge has been active in the region for many years and sees the explosive growth and understands the challenges the Airports and ANSPs face. Searidge’s extensive knowledge of both ATC and airport operations and proven innovative surface management technology well positions them to play a key role in customers’ plans to increase efficiency and safety at their airport.
The Dubai Airport Show is renowned for delivering the most diverse exhibition in the airport sector, showcasing the very latest products, services and solutions in the airport market, and uniquely securing visitors from all levels of airport management from around the world.Searidge has therefore selected this event to support their existing customers and explore new opportunities.
Searidgewill have a significant presence in the Canadian Pavilion at the event, showcasing the most innovative remote control solutions on the market. Searidge will showcase solutions that are in operation throughout the Middle East, Europe and North America, supporting airport goals to reduce airport delays, increase efficiency, speed and overall safety of the airport.
Q : Who are your current customers in the Middle East and what of your products are they using?
Pat Urbanek :
Our partnership with Dubai Airports began over 3 years ago with the implementation of our Remote Situational Awareness and Zone Occupancy solution at Dubai International (DXB) to monitor a critical intersection consisting of two taxiways, an apron area and a service road. In 2014, Dubai Airports reinvested in Searidge technology to include additional monitored areas, extensive integration with existing airport systems and additional automation capabilities.
“As we look to maintain our high service levels and further enhance the airport experience, it is extremely important that we ensure our technology partners share in our dedication and goals,” explains Chris Garton, Executive Vice President, Operations at Dubai Airports. "The flexibility Searidge has shown and their efforts in bringing advanced technology into operation will help Dubai as we strive to become the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic.”
The Searidge solution provides Airfield Lighting (AFL) operations with the capability to remotely monitor the area with a real-time video of the full coverage area presented via a one-look panoramic display. They are also able to detect and track all targets in the given area and are provided zone highlighting functionality which show if the monitored area is occupied or vacant. Today the coverage area consists of four critical intersections that cross two parallel taxiways and connect to adjacent service roads. Searidge has also integrated its ATC-grade and Intelligent Video platforms with other airport data sources to provide Operators with a comprehensive view of the airport surface that includes information such as push back clearance, traffic light status, visibility category and call signs. The system also shows zone occupancy (red/green) of monitored areas, can predict the crossings aircraft will intersect, mark distance to crossings and can automatically switch to thermal camera coverage when visibility drops below a defined value. All this information is presented on the Searidge heads-up display to allow Operators to make informed, efficient decisions while managing the surface.
We have several other unannounced customers in the region with solutions focused on traffic lighting and surface management.
Q : Can you elaborate on your remote tower partner role for SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) RACOON project?
Pat Urbanek :
RACOON is an ENAV‐led project that consists of a consortium of key stakeholders that include ANSPs, airports, airspace users and manufacturers. The project aims to demonstrate the viability and cost effectiveness of providing Remote Tower Services to multiple airports. For the purpose of the project, a remote tower will be set up at Milano Malpensa airport, which will act as a Remote Tower Center (RTC) providing remote airport services combined with air navigation (RNAV) procedures for the night-time operations to Milano Linate, as well as a virtual airport.
Searidge will provide air traffic controllers (ATCOs) at the RTC center with real-time video that has automation functionality, advanced video processing for target tracking and positioning, integrated real-time data on a common platform and a customized human machine interface (HMI) where all information will be displayed. Every aspect of the solution will be tailored to ENAV ATCOs and site-specific requirements. To achieve this, Searidge will use off-the-shelf hardware that will provide controllers with enhanced situational awareness, particularly in low visibility conditions. And during night operations, approach radar, ground radar and electronic flight strips data will be integrated to give them a comprehensive view of all activity taking place on and around the airport surface.
Q : Can you give an over view on your remote tower solutions? Which airports are interested in this solution?
Pat Urbanek :
Searidge supports all concepts of remote operations including a single aerodrome, multiple aerodromes, contingency services and remoteapron control.
Our unique approach to remote services allows our clients to select from a toolbox of technology that enables ANSPs and airports to safely and efficiently control their operations without vendor/ hardware lock-in. Our software easily integrates with existing systems and supports the customer’s concept of operation. We customize every aspect of the solution including hardware, work environments, and user interface to suit our customers’ distinctive needs.
The modular architecture of the Searidge system offers customers the ultimate deployment and customization flexibility. As a small/medium or large airport, ANSPs can start with baseline functionality and expand coverage, add features and applications as needed.
The Searidge Remote Tower solution enables operators to manage ground traffic from a remote, window-less location. The system delivers real-time ATC-grade video for visual confirmation of targets, radar-like coverage of all non-cooperative targets and the most advanced out-the-window view by using video from cameras deployed parallel to each other and “stitching” them together to provide a single panoramic view of an area.
A great deal of importance is put on the user, the tools/surveillance provided to the user, and how the system interaction will enable the controller to perform their tasks with confidence and with the least amount of strain. The Searidge Remote Tower offering ensures the technology is easily adaptable and flexible so it can evolve during the implementation process. As such, Searidge offers flexibility to an ASNP to display video on variable number and resolution displays (single monitor to video wall), integrate information overlays and data, and enable the control of collapsing and expanding the HMI to accommodate procedures associated with shift-changes, increased volumes and various multi-site concepts of operation.
Q : You say Searidge’s ATC-Grade video system solution will enhance ATC operators’ ability to make surface management decisions. Please elaborate on this.
Pat Urbanek :
ATC-Grade video supports airports and ANSPs who could benefit from increased situational awareness due to line-of-sight obstructions and remote geographical areas.
The Searidge ATC-Grade Video system uses advanced video processing technology to intuitively consolidate multiple camera scenes into a simulated single out-of-the-window view of the area of interest. With full visual confirmation of the situation, controllers can safely and efficiently carry out ATC operations in all weather conditions with a high degree of confidence.
Q : What does the future look like in terms of ATC management?
Pat Urbanek :
We see big improvements in type, availability and cost of sensorswhich will significantly enhance automation with the ATM industry; runway incursion alerting systems for example that today require human-in-the-loop to verify and notify can be improved both in safety and effectiveness with new sensors and alerting capability.
We also see movement towards more open standards for sharing of data between systems, especially across stakeholder boundaries that allow better performance and collaboration and decision making.
And finally - moving towards a network-centric provision of service - from controlling multiple airports from one location to completely virtualized area control centres; ANSPs will have a high degree of flexibility in managing and controlling air traffic.