San Diego International Airport

Since its employees spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen with multiple applications open simultaneously, this airport switched to a dual-monitor setup with NEC's MultiSync EX231W.

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San Diego International Airport
Quick Facts
  • Facility: San Diego International Airport, operated by the San Diego Regional Airport Authority
  • Vertical: Transportation
  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Challenges: Create a greener, more productive working environment while reducing costs
  • Solution: 23" NEC MultiSync® EX231W
  • Result: Improved employee workflow with energy efficient displays

San Diego International Airport (SDIA) has a rich and storied history that dates back to the very early days of flight as a practical means of transportation. Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis was built very near the current airport, and he tested it on the Ryan Airlines airstrip before making his historic solo trans-Atlantic flight.

Inspired by Lindbergh's flight, the City of San Diego passed a bond issue in 1928 for construction of a new, general-use airfield to which Lindbergh agreed to lend his name. It was known then as San Diego Municipal Airport – Lindbergh Field and continues to carry the moniker to this day.

Today, SDIA is the world's second busiest single-runway airport, topping the busiest airport leaderboard in the U.S and ranking seventh among the safest airports in the country. Nearly 17 million passengers visited its terminals in 2010, and that number is expected to rise between 27 million and 33 million by 2030. SDIA is currently served by 20 airlines and four cargo carriers traveling nonstop to 49 destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe. In addition, it is one of only four airports in the country that use runway status lights that automatically indicate the status of the runway directly to pilots and ground personnel. Despite all of this activity, SDIA maintains a "small airport" feel. One of its unique features is its location in the middle of downtown San Diego, making it convenient for both business and pleasure travelers.

SDIA is operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA), an independent entity founded in 2003 due to an FAA mandate that asserts that 80 percent of revenue generated by an airport must go back into it.

The Challenge

When managing the busiest single-runway airfield in the U.S., operational efficiency is critical to being successful. Employees at SDCRAA spend a lot of time in front of their computer screens, often switching between multiple applications. The more time it takes to switch, and the more fatigue gained due to eye strain, the less efficient each employee becomes.

"While our old monitors were good at the time we purchased them, it was becoming obvious that the technology had moved on," said David Ellis, systems support analyst/help desk supervisor at SDCRAA. "The Authority manages the entire operation of the airport, so employees may be viewing the usual word processing and spreadsheet documents, complex visuals such as architectural and engineering drawings, or information on proprietary applications. The screens were small based on current standards, making it more difficult to view the information over long periods of time."

Energy efficiency was also a concern that was brought to the fore by the Green Build, the largest construction program in the airport's history. In looking at future needs in the expansion, Ellis became acutely aware of how much energy was being consumed by SDCRAA's existing monitors.

With budget available for upgrades, Ellis decided the time was right to begin replacing the old desktop monitors with larger, more energy-efficient models. Although several monitor manufacturers were eager for the business, Ellis didn't have to look far for the right choice. It was right over his head as he walked through the terminals.

SDIA's Flight Information Display System (FIDS) conveys a variety of information to arriving and departing travelers. In addition to the usual flight information and status, it can provide weather updates at the destination airport, information about events and attractions, ground transportation updates and more.

SDCRAA began replacing its old FIDS CRT monitors with NEC V321 and E421 professional large-screen displays several years ago. These displays provide outstanding, color-critical visuals that are ideal for the broad range of information that comes across the monitors."We like the quality of the NEC displays as well as their versatility and energy efficiency," Ellis said. "Those are some of the reasons we standardized on them in the terminals for the FIDS. When it came time to upgrade the desktops, we immediately gravitated toward NEC."

Still, SDCRAA wanted to be sure it was making the right decision so NEC arranged to deliver a few NEC MultiSync EX231W displays that the Authority could use on a trial basis.

The Solution

"We had several users across different departments try the displays for a few days," Ellis said. "Every single user loved them and was reluctant to give them up after the trial period."

One of the advantages of the EX231W for SDCRAA is the ability to keep multiple applications visible at the same time due to the large, wide screen.

"Some of our users need to reference back and forth between documents and applications," Ellis said. "Switching between them was inefficient on the CRTs, especially if the information was complex or difficult to remember. With the widescreen EX231W, employees can look at two more documents side-by-side at a comfortable size. They really like that capability."

SDCRAA began deploying 30 new displays as part of a general computing upgrade.

"Once our users saw the new displays, everyone wanted one," Ellis said. "The requests for new monitors have picked up considerably."

The most quantifiable result for SDCRAA was the reduction in cost per display unit. Ellis says the Authority was able to provide users with a brighter, clearer display for $100 less per unit than replacing them with the previous competitive model, especially when purchasing in mass quantities. Yet it wasn't the cost that primarily drove the decision.

"Everyone who has an EX231W comments on how much easier it is to look at it for longer periods of time," Ellis said. "They don't feel as fatigued, even after long periods of use, and they love the clarity and sharpness of the images."

Because of their current success, NEC displays are likely to be featured prominently in the Green Build, a $1 billion project that will add 10 new gates to Terminal 2, a dual-level roadway to relieve traffic congestion for arrivals and departures, overnight parking for aircraft (rather than leaving them at the gate) and more security lanes. The project, expected to be completed in 2013, is setting new standards for sustainability at airports.

"NEC displays, both on the desktop and on the FIDS, have served us well," he said. "With their energy efficiency, eco-friendly manufacturing and competitive cost, I have little doubt that they will be a part of SDIA for many years to come."