For its size, Gatwick Airport handles flights to more destinations than any other UK airport with over 45.6 million passengers in 2017 travelling via this airport. With the world’s busiest single runway, Gatwick Airport broke the record that year by achieving an incredible 950 flights taking off in a day! Ahead in terms of development and technology, Gatwick airport was the world’s first airport to have a direct train link and railway station. In 2013, Gatwick was looking for an innovative, multilingual and advanced Text to Speech solution for their Public Address System.
Gatwick airport’s key requirement was to automate it’s PA (Public Address system). This would improve customer service; save costs by reducing the number of staff on the information desks and increase audibility, engaging travellers in a diverse range of languages using characterful voices which customers could relate to.
The Official Journal of the European Union put out Gatwick’s request to tender. Microwatt, a small UK-based electronics company, had developed a cost-effective PA Bridge which interfaces between any PA system using their software ‘Phonetica’. They approached CereProc to work on the project. CereProc provided their cServer, a high-performance, multi-channel Text-to-Speech server which had a number of natural Unit Selection voices in several languages.
Simon Clegg, CEO, Microwatt describes pre-existing Text-to-Speech systems as fairly poor. He states that:“ CereProc was ahead of the game. We needed voices that annunciated well. CereProc voices did and continue to do so”
CereProc working closely with Microwatt battled hard to win the tender and succeeded by pushing the boundaries of technology to develop the world’s first multi-language Text-To-Speech public address system deliverable by mobile device.
Gatwick’s system went live in 2014 on a mobile solution. This resulted in a significantly improved customer experience as Gatwick now had the ability to communicate with its passengers using many different languages through the use of CereProc’s characterful voices. Through innovative technology Gatwick was able to recoup its investment by closing the information desks saving on staffing costs and redeveloping the space into valuable retail areas which in turn generated more revenue for the airport. As airports continue to face the challenges of terrorism, Mircowatt is constantly finding solutions through introducing a ‘lock down’ feature that only allows certain users to make calls in an emergency. The system has received a huge amount of positive feedback from Gatwick Airport and its passengers.
Nick Henderson, Terminal Manager, Gatwick Airport states: “The solution has proven a great success and for the first time ever, customers at the airport can be contacted irrespective of nationality, resulting in a new level of customer service. The solution also offered operational efficiency, by allowing operatives to interact with passengers on the floor and not from the confines of a PA suite”
To summarise, CereProc is proud with its partners to be part of this project. It continues to win commercial contracts by providing custom-built solutions for its customers technical problems through cutting edge technical innovation with the advanced and natural sounding Text-to-Speech systems in the world. CereProc looks forward to working together with Microwatt on similar projects in the future.