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Guests on a cruise want to be surprised and delighted. Commuters on a train want fewer surprises and place more value on an uncomplicated ride. But the journey doesn’t start with the mode of transport. An effortless experience starts when the passenger searches how they’d like to travel online and must be consistent through buying tickets, booking in, and the journey itself. The experience only ends when the journey – and the passenger’s contact with your network – ends.

Trains, buses, trucks and ships are constantly on the move, passing through areas with varying levels of connectivity. This can make it difficult to maintain a stable and reliable connection. Bridges, tunnels and remote or hard-to-reach ocean locations further complicate any IT task.

A village on a voyage – babies and all

One of our clients is a leading cruise-line operator in Europe. Many cruise liners can accommodate a community of up to 6,400. Keeping this many people connected – and contented – involves a vast range of services and solutions. An example is the “baby phone”. It’s popular with parents as they can watch their child taking a nap in the cabin while they sneak away for a break. Passengers also need access to the internet and video streaming to connect with the world outside the cruise ship.

But creating a great customer experience takes more than connecting passengers and their many devices to the ship’s network and the internet. It also takes more than connecting the ship to the head office. You need onboard communications, crisis intervention, personalized passenger services and onboard entertainment, as well as ship navigation, security and maintenance. The importance of secure connections is top of mind for everyone!

Connecting land, sea and sky

Designing, implementing and managing effective connectivity solutions for the travel industry is not straightforward. The core challenge of automation and connectivity in the travel industry is that connectivity cannot be guaranteed.

Ships have an internal environment, including several fully equipped server rooms, miles and miles of cables and a secure integrated wireless solution. The network must support the high volume of traffic from all the different devices that passengers and staff use. Satellites connect the village in the middle of the ocean to the head office on land.

Addressing unique transportation challenges

Updating infrastructure is planned during short refresh breaks when the ship is in dock. Sometimes it’s necessary for the IT team to set to sea to complete installations. To keep things running smoothly when they’re not on board, we designed intelligent, robust automation to handle simple break–fix tasks, like plugging in a phone connection, as well as more complex operations like managing security and operations.

You need all your technologies, systems and applications to work at peak performance, whether the ship is connected to the outside world or not. This is where automation comes into play. Take checking switches for unauthorized access. It takes more than an hour to check each device’s status, and these checks have to be done regularly. With tens of thousands of devices, doing it manually could take months, and devices could be vulnerable while they wait their turn. This way, checking is automated: it runs and instantly alerts the IT team to any concerns.

Another essential function of automation is to assist in updating devices with the latest head office requirements. Any update is enabled as soon as a cruise liner connects again via satellite to the head office. When devices need to be reconfigured, this rolls out while the ship is at sea.

Real-time dashboards show the status of the ship’s systems, providing data for the team on board. The head office instantly sees a single, up-to-date view of all ships, everywhere!

Creating an architecture for accessible systems

Our client’s next-generation architecture includes many vendors and technologies, each with their own configuration and communication requirements. The way the ship is built – with metal walls, fire-safety zones and other constraints – and only being able to use satellite to connect each ship to the world add complexity.

In addition to a deep understanding of the specific connectivity needs of each industry and client we work with, we have the skills and capability to design and implement technical solutions that withstand the rigors of dynamic and often unpredictable operating environments.

Our specialist technical services teams always focus on resilient, redundant designs and implementation. We scope vendor-neutral, future-fit environments and our clients can choose which features to switch on or off.

Realizing returns

Resources are tight and skilled staff can be in short supply. Cost control is crucial, and every project investment must deliver value. Continually optimizing infrastructure for cost and performance – especially in an industry with complex requirements – can maximize return on investment and provide a delightful customer experience while limiting cost.

Work with a highly skilled, certified and experienced technology partner who can give you access to the latest specialized technologies, including private 5G networks, edge-to-core and IoT functionality to optimize the performance of your estate.

Are you considering new technology, refreshing your architecture or managing multitower or multivendor assets? Our teams deliver extra project value every time. Visit our Technology Solutions page to see how.