In a nutshell

Genaker PTT delivers a true, end-to-end push-to-talk (PTT) service, providing an IP-based solution with secure, real-time walkie-talkie type communications over cellular and Wi-Fi networks. The solution uses smartphones, ruggedized handsets and IP-based two way radios.

Why use it?

Quite simply, productivity enhancement, increased efficiency (including flight punctuality) and cost savings. The main driver for Genaker’s approach is to avoid the limitations of existing radio communication solutions used in airports, such as PMR or TETRA.

These solutions are appropriate for mission-critical users, such as airport fire brigades or police officers, but many stakeholders in the air transport industry will find them costly, restrictive or limited. Our solution targets airlines, catering services, ground handling, airport shops, cafeterias, airport services, crews, check-in or boarding teams, fuel operations teams and so on.

Background

Restrictions and limitations of legacy radio solutions mean that, to save radio frequencies, organizations may limit the number of radio channels they use. To reduce costs, they may also restrict the number of radio units purchased or leased, while limiting communication among teams (such as crew, catering, boarding and handling teams) due to strict communication policies.

In addition, communications may be for in-airport users only, with each airport effectively becoming a communications ‘island’, which leads to inefficiencies or to overloading some key personnel during peak operation times, such as the flight or gate manager.

By migrating a significant share of such communications to Genaker PTT, the whole communications infrastructure becomes much more adaptable to the needs of each stakeholder. Because the solution can use cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, it’s no longer restricted to in-airport communications, even though each organization can restrict it according to their operating needs.

And with channels not using spectrum frequencies there are no restrictions in the number of channels used, while the use of shared infrastructure and cost-effective smartphones means that organizations will be able to provide communication devices to users based on real operational needs rather than on cost saving needs.

Genaker provides a solution to all those inefficiencies, helping professionals throughout the air transport industry extend their walkie-talkie communications to colleagues located anywhere in the world, adapt the channels they have available to their operational needs, not the other way around, and consolidate the different forms of communication employed into a single device and even in a single solution, capable of supporting not only voice communications but also data exchange in a progressively data-based environment.

It’s important to note that those organizations involved in Public Safety or Mission Critical operations ─ such as airport fire brigade, flight control, police forces and flight security ─ may still need to use a dedicated radio communication system. In such cases, it’s possible to complement (not necessarily replace) the radio system with Genaker PTT communications to provide complementary communications (e.g.: inter-team coordination, communication to off-site officers, …) to the radio communication system.

Impact

Genaker PTT helps to enhance productivity, increase efficiency and save cost, providing the ability to:

  • Deliver smartphone-based solutions allowing users to more quickly exchange information among themselves, as there’s no restriction in rotating a limited number of radio units
  • Exchange information via text not audio, resulting in fewer mistakes. Recorded audio allows greater accuracy. Certain operations can be completed faster, such as embarking by counting outstanding passengers, and baggage handling. This increases overall flight punctuality
  • Achieve greater economies of scale and reduced costs compared to narrowband radio solutions

In short, using Genaker PTT means:

  • Less CAPEX and OPEX invested in radio communications
  • Fewer times the user find their manager ‘busy’ due to a phone call
  • Improved incident resolution times
  • Increased number of tasks resolved by each team
  • Improved flight punctuality due to better coordination and instant inter-airport communication
  • Improved baggage handling (fewer losses, quicker findings) and location due to instant communication

Partnerships and collaboration

Genaker’s success derives from its ability to work closely with an ecosystem of partners which allow us to provide the end user with the necessary elements to make of this PTT service the logic evolution from the walkie-talkie.

Because of the importance of the right combination of software and hardware, Genaker has established partnerships with a number of smartphone and accessory manufacturers as well as key strategic partners. We are currently working with partners in the Public Safety, Carrier, Oil & Gas segment. SITA represents a strategic partnership to jointly succeed in the air transport industry segment.

Some of our existing partners include NEC, Siemens Convergence Creators, Klein, Andromeda, Telefonica, Vodafone and others.

Lessons learned

  • Feedback through evaluation of the service by several flagship carriers enables Genaker to learn lessons all the time
  • The importance of simplicity in order to be effective in emulating walkie-talkie type communications and in providing service with the right handsets and accessories
  • The fact that Genaker PTT can contribute in the migration toward a data-centric task management system, as well as an evolution toward 4G LTE ICT infrastructures, from legacy radio solutions
  • With professionals in the air transport industry gradually moving towards the consolidation of the tools they need to carry out their work onto a single device, Android is the predominant operating system being used to deliver on this change, thanks to the availability of ubiquitous coverage and ruggedized handsets and accessories specially adapted to meet the needs of the professional user
  • User feedback has shows us that the implementation of our service has allowed them to coordinate in ways which were out of their reach before. Likewise, almost all users appreciate being able to just carry a single device as opposed to wearing multiple devices for different purposes
  • From the trials we have run in air transport industry we notice that instant communications based on Genaker PTT allows all users involved in the check-in, embarking, baggage handling operations to stay coordinated and instantly transmit baggage count and baggage handling complete operations. This can significantly help avoid baggage loss situations

Top three achievements

  • Having replaced a major provider’s PMR network by Genaker PTT for 800 users in an Oil & Gas deployment
  • Having been responsible for carrying country-wide group communications in the organization of the Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Having completed 90% successful trials so far in 2016 leading to significant growth in transport, police and hospitality sectors during second half of the year

Top challenges

  • Our top challenge has been delivering a service which is based on standards all the way, and avoiding taking the easy way around and adopt a semi-standard approach, which is what most companies do, even though this has sometimes proven challenging to accomplish
  • We have been able to overcome these difficulties thanks to the unwavering commitment of the team, composed of seasoned professionals with years of experience in the field, to the vision set out from the beginning of providing the PTT service of choice for those professionals for whom reliability and future-proofness truly matters
  • The resolve of the team to reach this goal along with its technical expertise, allowed the company to receive the support of the European Commission within the framework of the H2020 programme, with its proposal to deliver a truly standard based PTT service, due to its innovativeness, its business viability, and its potential to make a meaningful impact in across the economy
  • In the deployment of our solution, we have also learned that one challenge may be resistance to change. It is important that end users have the best possible initial impression to ensure a good start with a pilot or a deployment project. For this, it is key to use the right combination of software (Genaker PTT) and hardware (equipment and accessories). This is fundamental to ensure that for users who migrate from radio devices to smartphones, the gap is minimized as much as possible
  • Furthermore it is important to establish a relationship of transparency with all stakeholders involved in a pilot (for example, managers, end users, contractors, unions, ICT managers, and so on) and to ensure that all questions and concerns are properly tackled

Directions

We are completing a new release of the product aimed at improving performance, adding new features such as richer messaging to deliver a complete universal communications experience.

As the air transport industry grows year on year, we see the need for its stakeholders to coordinate more closely and make full use of the possibilities made available to them thanks to ubiquitous coverage and the emergence of advanced communication services, allowing them to establish interoperable solutions which are able to evolve over time as the industry and the needs of particular stakeholders evolve and which can be used on a broad range of devices, avoiding tying up users to a particular terminal.

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