BAA will implement a system to provide a real time view of its processes and resources at London’s Heathrow airport.

The airport operator, which has 12,000 staff and is responsible for 200,000 passengers per year across seven airports, is conducting the project as part of an ongoing £600 million IT overhaul.

Philip Langsdale, chief information officer at BAA, said: “We’re at the early stages of designing the specifications of a project to make Heathrow real time.”

The system will ensure Heathrow has the best teams in place, including security and check-in, as they are required to handle influxes of passengers, he said. “We want a real time view of our resources, and to be able to deploy them as necessary according to passengers arriving and moving through the airport.”

It will also provide a more collaborative base for fast decision making by managers, so that resources can be deployed for a “quick response to crisis”, he said.

The project is part of a £600 million IT overhaul and simplification programme by BAA, to be completed by 2012. BAA wants to cut operating expenses by £114 million annually.

“Our IT has become far too complex for what we need, so there’s a big drive to reduce complexity,” he said. “I hate complexity and the cost and poor service it brings.”

One of the changes due to take place is the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system, for which BAA is now assessing suppliers.

It is currently running a legacy Oracle-based system, but has made “over 500 changes” to tailor it over recent years, and is considering multiple off the shelf suppliers, including Oracle again, Langsdale said.

BAA is also looking to renew its human resource management, procurement, finance and commercial systems.

It additionally plans to implement a new “integrated baggage system” at Heathrow, Langsdale said, which will provide a full real time view of where all bags are and improve tracking.

But the operator's IT plans are being "complicated", Langsdale said, as it is being forced by the Competition Commission to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports, and to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

“It’s hard to take the Gatwick bits of a system out, without hurting Heathrow,” he said.

BAA is also an early adopter of the new Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, which is released next week in the UK. Some 50 users tested the beta version of the system, mainly in BAA’s procurement and legal operations.

Langsdale expects around 200 users to make the first move to the full system over the coming year, but this will take place as BAA refreshes hardware – over 95 per cent of its PCs are considered below the specifications needed to support the new operating system.

BAA is also implementing the new version of Microsoft Windows Server – Release 2 – and is an extensive user of Citrix Presentation Server application delivery software.