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Case Study: SITA Command Center



About the Client


"At every step of the passenger experience, from check-in to baggage tracking, the SITA Command Center works around the clock, in Montreal and Singapore, to ensure there are no hitches throughout the journey." - APEX

Originally known as the "Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques", SITA was founded in 1949 as a cooperative by 11 European and U.S. airlines to build a communications network for the aviation industry. Today, SITA supports about 55,000 airport check-in kiosks, in addition to providing communications networks for Airbus SE and Boeing Co., the world’s two largest commercial jet-makers (Montréal Gazette).

About the Project



When SITA first approached Sustema, they wanted to create a distinctive, enjoyable, and inspiring environment for its employees and customers all around the world. In order to handle the worldwide telecommunication networks, the new network command center needed to support over 100 agents with each work area having specialized console workstations ergonomically designed to minimize user fatigue, discomfort and to eliminate desktop clutter.  Workstations needed to have special access for equipment and wiring and had to be of modular design to allow for future flexibility and growth. The consoles also had to be designed to create a productive and comfortable workspace and give the users privacy where needed.


Sustema was selected as the preferred vendor by DFAIT (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade) to design and manufacture specialized technical console workstation furniture for its new Emergency Watch and Response Centre. The Centre is comprised of two individual areas: the principal call centre and the response room.


The Solution


Sustema's team of industrial designers worked in close collaboration with DFAIT’s in-house design team to develop the final solution. Thanks to Sustema's experience regarding communication center layouts and the industry best practices to tailor the space, the client selected the Focus C-200 console to furnish and organize its space. The Focus console is ergonomically designed for intensive use and responded to all the technical and functional requests made by the client. The Focus console allows for a high density of equipment, wiring, and electrical services in addition to offering comfort and functionality for users and managers. In all, Sustema provided the complete portfolio of the 90 workstations and met every criterion presented by the client: ergonomics, technology implementation, esthetics, and finishes.


Sustema also worked closely with the DFAIT group on planning, budgeting, and implementation.  The Emergency Watch and Response Centre is now SITA's flagship command center in North America. Should a blackout occur, SITA can count on generators and an uninterruptible power supply to keep the Montreal facility running. As part of a disaster recovery process, local managers can also wake up their Singapore-based colleagues so that backup engineers are fully operational within 30 minutes of receiving a phone call. (Montreal Gazette)


The Installation




At any given time, about 70 staff are monitoring data and applications from 30,000 common-use terminals and check-in kiosks for airlines, airports, and airport authorities across 200 countries. A row of seven-foot-tall screens that runs almost the width of the room acts as the motherboard, displaying real-time data from airlines, airports, servers, kiosks and baggage systems (APEX).


Today, SITA’s Montreal center has been operating for over 12 years, running 13 hours a day and taking turns with the Singapore location to ensure around-the-clock coverage seven days a week. The combined staff of about 160 is split almost equally between the two cities and includes people of more than 15 nationalities, fluent in more than 20 languages.


“Customers don’t see anything, passengers go on their journey, board their flights.” – Chantal Dubé, SITA Command Center

Together with its Singapore twin, the Montreal command center is dedicated to solving problems affecting the “mission-critical” computer and communications systems used by airlines, airports, and air-traffic-control providers around the clock. Air transport is its sole focus. Only last year, SITA says it resolved 81 percent of all major incidents within two hours. SITA says its command centers allow it to monitor, manage and support the operations of more than 1,000 airports and 1,000 airlines. (Montreal Gazette)

Prior to having two command centers, SITA had separate support channels for various services. In 2010, they were consolidated into the SITA Command Center in Montreal, which operated on a 24-hour cycle, 365 days a year. But overnight shifts proved difficult to keep up, and a year later, a second office was established in Singapore. Now, by 7:30 a.m. each day, the command center’s operations are officially passed from Singapore to Montreal like an Olympic Torch – only without the fanfare. Singapore shuts down to sleep and the operations carry on in Montreal, where computers are humming, screens are alight, and somewhere, a coffee pot is on (APEX).


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