Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Maria-Jose Subiria

Inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's Information Technology (IT) Monitoring Center, employees appear glued to their computer screens.

The IT Monitoring Center, which has operated for approximately five years, supports all of the IT services offered by the airport to its passengers and employees, according to Hartsfield-Jackson Chief Information Officer Lance Lyttle. Those IT services include the airport's Wi-Fi system, and the Department of Aviation employee e-mail system, he said.

Eight employees work at the center, though some might be stationed at another office, or be off site while physically fixing a given device, said Network Administrator Andrew Crawford.

Crawford said the center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees staff the center from 6 a.m., to 10 p.m., while there is one person on call after 10 p.m. "After 10 p.m., if a call comes in, they'll get a notification on their cell [phone]," Lyttle said.

If there is a problem with an IT service, "any person, employees and passengers, can call the center," said Lyttle.

Crawford said the center can be reached at (404) 382-4070.

The center's Help Desk Systems technicians answer the phone calls, according to Lyttle.

After technicians receive a call, they place a work order into the system, explaining the issue, said Crawford. He said the work order is assigned to a technician who specializes in the particular technology relevant to the call.

Crawford said some issues, such as a problem in the employee e-mail system for example, can be corrected at the center.

"We can remote into the Department of Aviation network using our DOA laptops," he said.

Besides fixing information technology, employees are responsible for other duties, such as sending anti-virus updates to the airport's network and desktop machines, and running daily and monthly reports of the systems, such as the Wi-Fi network, said Crawford.

"We run reports off of this system [Wi-Fi network] that tell us how many users are connected, how many users are authenticated with our system and to which WISP [Wireless Internet Service Provider] they are signed up with," said Crawford. "If we see anything out of normal in the network, we investigate it."

Crawford said if a problem can't be fixed remotely, an employee physically inspects the given device and solves the issue after 10 p.m., due to airport policy.

Monitor screens inside the center help keep workers updated on different aspects of technology at the airport, according to Crawford.

One monitor displays information about the public Wi-Fi network, Crawford said, and allows employees to see the level of activity.

Another monitor shows the Wi-Fi network's web site, as viewed by Wi-Fi customers, according Crawford. If there is a problem on the web site, the monitor will allow employees to see it.

The Wi-Fi network was launched in 2006, according to Crawford, as was the Distributed Antenna System (DAS).

According to Hartsfield-Jackson officials, the DAS is composed of 700 antennas that provide cell phone coverage throughout the airport's terminals, atrium, concourses and the automated people mover.

Forbes magazine named Hartsfield-Jackson the number one airport in the nation for Wi-Fi connectivity in 2008, according to the airport's web site,