Solutions driven while computing on-the-fly
* Jennifer Foreshew
* From: The Australian
* June 07, 2011 12:00AMhttp://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/it-business/solutions-driven-while-computing-on-the-fly/story-e6frganx-1226069742797
ADELAIDE Airport IT manager Philip Dewhurst was bitten by the travel bug before taking on his current role. But cheap or free airfares aren't a perk of the job.
"We pay like everybody else," Dewhurst says. "We are completely agnostic, for obvious reasons."
The married father-of-two, who spent almost 20 years with Coca-Cola, joined Adelaide Airport more than three years ago.
"With Coke, I started as a junior programmer and worked my way through the ranks," he says. "I really did start in the days of paper tape and punched cards."
Dewhurst, who has been in IT for almost 40 years, has worked in New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa, India and the US during his career.
His responsibilities at Adelaide Airport include the data and voice network, technology infrastructure, helpdesk, digital signage, data security, service provider contracts (in particular for the T1 Terminal) as well as the procurement of technology solutions. There is a separate group looking after business systems.
"We are not leading edge in aviation," says Dewhurst, who is a keen traveller as well as sailor. "You have got to put in your fairly well-tried and true systems."
The small IT team consists of about a dozen people, including four direct reports and third-party service contract staff. Dewhurst would like to boost this by one or two extra staff.
"A lot of our work is around the government-required master plan," Dewhurst says. "We put out a master plan every five years."
Adelaide Airport's current IT projects include working with the airlines on their new passenger experiences, including check-in, departure and/or baggage movement. "We did a lot of work with Qantas on their next-generation check-in, where you have your kiosks and your self-bag drop," he says.
Other work includes refreshing digital signage at the airport for flight information and advertising, server virtualisation, a new multi-deck carpark and mobile workforce.
"Our airport duty managers need to be keeping an eye on where aircraft are going to be parked, because there could be changes at any minute," Dewhurst says. "However, if they are not in the office they have got to race back and get to their computer. But if they have a mobile device they can do it on-the-fly, literally."
Dewhurst is unable to discuss the implementation of body scanner technology at the airport.
He admits security, generally, is the biggest issue his team faces. "When we look at our stats, as far as viruses and spam, it chews up an enormous amount of our resources and our time even though we have systems in place. It still needs to be monitored, maintained and kept up-to-date."
Dewhurst says that security is ramped up every year. "We have systems in place and hardware in place, but the baddies are always finding different ways," he says. "They try to hack into the system, sending viruses through in denials of service attacks. We can just physically see it all the time - they are banging at the door."
Another challenge is demand from staff to introduce different mobile devices. "We are very security minded," Dewhurst says. "So physical security, data security, network security and anything to do with security we are very tough on it."
But Dewhurst sees connectivity for wireless devices as a hot topic for many years to come. Adelaide Airport is also looking at new tablet devices.