Renamed in 2019 for the boxing legend who hails from Louisville, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) is undergoing a multi-year, $400 million renovation effort including several projects across the building. As part of the effort, the airport built an $18.5 million Operations Center in August 2021, which featured multiple upgrades to the airport’s security and communications systems, including technology and products from AtlasIED (opens in new tab).
According to the World Airport Traffic Report, the airport is ranked the world’s fifth busiest for cargo operations; in 2019, before the pandemic, more than 4.2 million passengers traveled through the airport. Operating the airport requires a massive logistical presence, and communications within the building is essential in helping personnel to direct resources and to connect people during routine operations and emergency situations.
The Operations Center serves as the nerve center for all airport operations, and includes an around-the-clock communications hub and team. The center allows operations, communications, and security staff to continuously monitor and respond to any operational aspect that may arise, including communicating with internal personnel or directly with visitors over the public-facing paging system. If anything happens on the airfield, terminal, baggage claim, drop-off, or parking lots, all communications activity arrives through the center. From standard travel reminders to flight updates to forgotten belongings left at security checkpoints, the Operations Center team helps connect the right people to act quickly under any circumstance.
[Messaging That Matters] (opens in new tab)
“The Operations Department is crucial to the airport, and we’ve worked to assemble the best team and given them the best tools, resources, and technology to do their job,” said Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “With the opportunity to integrate the latest and greatest technology and capabilities from companies like AtlasIED, I’m confident our new Operations Center, our staff, and technology deployed in the airport is best-in-class in the industry.”
SDF installed an array of AtlasIED products at key areas throughout the building to give staff convenient access. At the heart of the airport’s new communications system is the AtlasIED GLOBALCOM Enterprise Communications system, which allows the Operations Center team to connect a variety of devices or endpoints to the central network. The robust GLOBALCOM platform manages all of the audio and connects into visual communication feeds from around the airport, sending and receiving media from across the airport while bridging between multiple network protocols.
The system includes an ACS controller, a software-based network appliance that controls the flow of communication traffic. It also serves as a gateway for external I/O devices, VoIP telephone systems, and analog audio to be incorporated into the ecosystem. It provides intelligible two-way talkback between devices, offers record and playback, features advanced scheduling to plan announcements, automated zone-specific bells or tones, and can automatically adjust audio volume levels based on real-time environmental noise during busy or slower times at the airport.
The SDF team also integrated AtlasIED’s lifeline announcement controller that meets compliance requirements for life and safety emergency notification systems. The unit performs overall supervision of the entire system of emergency communication stations, digital zone manager amplifier units, and other network peripherals—and provides reporting of equipment alarm conditions. Failover capabilities ensure that messages, instructions, and notifications are reliably deployed should a critical situation arise.
AtlasIED’s premium touchscreen mic station, IED550, is installed in the Operations Center, while the other locations use the IED528 mic station. At ticket counters, gate podiums, and on the walls at gates, airport personnel can easily access and use the IED528 to report issues or incidents, or trigger announcements and messages, such as a live or recorded page to communicate a specific gate or terminal, to certain zones.
To support the GLOBALCOM ecosystem (opens in new tab), the Airport installed AtlasIED in-ceiling speakers, digital power amplifiers, message servers, and other network peripherals to help complete the system. Using GLOBALCOM, the operations team can communicate with visitors when needed at the right location to create a more enjoyable experience for visitors, from the parking lot to the gate.
The AtlasIED GLOBALCOM engineering and support team, also located in Louisville, shares a community pride as well as a unique collaboration for the international airport. AtlasIED continues to work with airport personnel to test its technology and products. The proximity to the airport also has benefitted both organizations, as AtlasIED can quickly respond with support and provide personalized training to SDF personnel when needed.
[Digital Signage on the Go] (opens in new tab)
“As the airport’s needs evolve, AtlasIED and the GLOBALCOM system will scale with it,” said Charles Kowalksi, domestic sales operations manager, AtlasIED. “We have formed a special, symbiotic relationship with SDF, and we look forward to collaborating with them using our latest technology to help them meet their goals in the years ahead.”
“We want to be the best airport in the country, and we try to not be too humble about the fact we want to be the best,” Mann added. “When your namesake is Muhammed Ali—the greatest of all time—it's something that we aspire to. I’m confident our new Operations Center puts us at the forefront in the industry.”