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RFID-Enabled Phones Assign Work to Airport Crew

Ground personnel at Finland's Helsinki-Vantaa Airport are using RFID-enabled mobile phones to report their locations and receive job assignments.
By Jonathan Collins
Jun 14, 2006At Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, a combination of mobile phone and RFID systems is helping improve airport operations.

For the past month, ground staff working for Northport, an airport services company that is part of the Finnair Group, have been using RFID-enabled mobile phones to update job scheduling systems regarding their location, and to receive details about new assignments.

Two years ago, Northport ground staff began using RFID-enabled staff identity cards to log in and out of shifts. Since then, employees have utilized mobile phones to call a service center for the location and other details of their next work assignment. The new system, tested in a trial held in January 2006, brings the two technologies together.

The new system was developed in cooperation with Nokia (which provided the mobile phones) and IBM (which served as systems integrator). According to Northport, the system streamlines the allocation, workflow and reporting of passenger-services, baggage-handling and check-in tasks by providing a way for the airport work-management system to use data on the exact location of ground staff after they complete each task. The system uses Nokia's Field Force Service Manager software, which connects the handsets to an IBM WebSphere-based server application that delivers the data to the existing airport work-management system in a usable format.

"We didn't used to know exactly where ground staff were when it came to assigning new tasks," says Jari Viitanen, VP of business development at Northport. "They could be calling from anywhere, so assigning tasks was not based on their location."

The new system uses RFID tags with the same Philips Semiconductors' Mifare 13.56 MHz RFID chips that are embedded in the existing ID cards system. Once ground staff complete set tasks and are ready for new ones, they use RFID readers integrated into their new Nokia 5140i handsets to read tags installed at locations around the airport. The 3-centimeter-wide circular tags from UPM Raflatac are each embedded in a plastic housing and mounted at the same place at every check-in desk and boarding gateso employees know exactly where to find them when needed.

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