Raleigh-Durham International Airport

Raleigh-Durham International Airport goes first class by standardizing with 32"–65" large-format NEC displays.

Quick Facts
  • Facility: Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Location: Central North Carolina
  • Challenge: Transition from CRT and static signage to dynamic digital signage
  • Solution: 32” - 65” NEC LCDs

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is located in central North Carolina, home to the world-renowned Research Triangle Park and leading universities and medical facilities. Ten major airlines operate from the airport’s two terminals and provide daily non-stop service to 36 domestic and international destinations. More than 100,000 tons of cargo passes through the airport each year.

In fall 2008, RDU opened the first phase of its newest terminal. Terminal 2 features 19 boarding gates, 26 shops and restaurants, and three international gates. The second phase of the terminal will open in winter 2011. When completed, the $570 million terminal will be nearly one million square feet. RDU's other passenger facility, Terminal 1, features 23 boarding gates and 24 shops and restaurants.

With more than 10 million passengers traveling through its gates in 2007, RDU needed communication tools capable of constant use. From advertising to flight information display systems (FIDS), RDU had an extensive list of requirements for its 5000-acre property. Additionally, its desire to standardize on displays across all areas of the airport meant that RDU needed a manufacturer capable of providing a broad offering of products at an affordable price.

The Challenge

Over recent years, RDU has become a high-traffic environment with more than 400 arrivals and departures each day. With this incredibly busy setting, every indoor public place of the airport required some sort of display solution. Traditionally, RDU used static signs to display wayfinding information or advertising and utilized CRT displays for its FIDS, gate area information and baggage claim area.

“The airport signage lacked uniformity and made it difficult for us to coordinate materials throughout the large space,” said Mark Posner, deputy airport director of information services for RDU and primary decision maker for this project. “With a new advertising contract, we wanted to offer our clients the ability to advertise with vibrant, active signage.”

The goal in this process was to standardize the displays and rid RDU of the multiple display brands being used. The airport needed a product family that provided reliability, energy efficiency and ease of use. Another requirement of the product was to exhibit similar design and cutting-edge technology appeal as the new terminal 2 building. In this 24/7 environment, failure to effectively display crucial information was not an option as displays posted time-critical data to travelers. With multitudes of areas to cover, including FIDS, marketing, visual paging, multiple access cable television (MATV), wayfinding, gate area displays with specific flight information, baggage claim and more, Posner wanted solutions that were easy to maintain and operate.

“A key requirement for our new display provider was a company that could provide a family of feature-rich displays incorporating a variety of sizes,” said Posner. “We have an abundance of areas requiring displays, with a need for monitors as small as 32” and as large as a video wall with displays in a matrix configuration.”

To find out which manufacturer could best fulfill RDU’s needs, the Airport Authority coordinated an in-house demonstration in which RDU evaluated multiple vendors’ products. The testing included technical analysis of the displays and incorporated situational testing to see how the displays would react in certain conditions.

The Solution

After the evaluation period in October of 2007, NEC was selected as the new display standard at RDU. The award-winning MultiSync® 20 Series displays gave the airport what it was looking for. The displays’ low failure rate combined with NEC's superior customer service support aided in its selection, as well as the displays' ability to adjust according to the various light conditions throughout the airport. After RDU completes installations in 2010, it will have purchased 50 65" MultiSync LCD6520 units, 150 57" LCD5710s, 150 46" LCD4620-AVTs and 40 32" LCD3210s. Being in the same family, these displays offer the same features and capabilities, allowing RDU the flexibility it needs to operate a multi-functioning digital signage system.

“I have found that NEC’s products are easy to use and integrate,” said Posner. “I really liked the look of the sleek, non-obtrusive quality of the thin bezel in the MultiSync 20 Series displays, especially when tiled together in a video wall matrix. It really catches your attention, and that is exactly what the airport needed.”

RDU operates all screens from one central location, which enables its Information Services team to centrally monitor and manage the health and status of each individual screen. The airport is able to completely control all aspects of the signage, from power functionality to content management from a single location, on the Airport Authority’s content management system.

“NEC offers the three things I value most: a low total cost of ownership, a standardized look and feel, and broad offering of a variety of products to fit our needs,” said Posner. “Our switch to digital was made easier by all those I worked with at NEC.”