Less than two weeks remain before the June 27 opening of the new $2.4 billion expansion at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, but visitors already have trooped into the new wing to see the new technology enhancements aimed at shuttling passengers through the airport as quickly as possible.
That new technology in Terminal 3, or T3, as the airport is branding it, includes self-service kiosks for self-baggage-check and self-boarding gates — and more than 900 large-screen digital signage displays and 800 single-board computers from NEC Display Solutions.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal estimated that about 6,000 to 10,000 Las Vegas residents showed up for an open house at the T3 earlier this month.
The early-bird visitors got a look at the hundreds of dynamic digital signage displays that will be used to provide flight, baggage and gate information, wayfinding, directories and airline branding to many of the 41 million travelers who pass through the airport each year. The 1.9-million square-foot, 14-gate (seven domestic and seven international) T3 facility is the largest modern public works project in Nevada history and will be home to nearly two dozen international and domestic airline carriers that fly to Las Vegas.
"Employing 1,800 people at its peak, the McCarran Terminal 3 project positions Las Vegas for the demanding growth in international and domestic travel, and our region as the premier tourism destination," said David Bourgon, the manager of airport IT services at McCarran Airport, in an NEC announcement. "Digital signage will be instrumental in guiding our visitors through the new facility and creating lasting, positive experiences and memories."
The digital signage displays — nearly 200 of NEC's 46-inch P461s and just more than 700 of NEC's 40-inch P401s — will be used for flight, baggage and gate information, security checkpoints, gate-holding areas and check-in counters. NEC's SBCs also will be deployed with the digital screens in the slot options of the displays. Having the computers residing in the monitors addresses the challenge of where to house the source computers for flight information displays mounted high on walls or in the air on pedestals, according to NEC.
Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins told KLAS-TV Channel 8 in Las Vegas that traffic through McCarran saw a 27 percent uptick in the second half of 2011. The new terminals will easily accommodate countless additional international tourists, he said.
"We can get seven flights at a time in here, international flights: those big planes full of people with money," Collins told the station.
(Watch the station's story on the T3 open house below:)
The technology upgrades have gained the new terminal a big fan in Randall Walker, director of the Clark County Aviation Department, which oversees the airport, according to VegasInc.com.
"It's been amazing to see how much airport technology has changed since the '90s," Walker said in a story posted on the site. "We've done a lot to prepare for changes in the future by installing a lot of accessible conduit so this facility will serve us well for a long time."
Read more about digital signage and travel.