When we talk about technology evolution in control room environments, the transformations that truly make a difference are thought out and planned to improve operator safety, comfort, efficiency and situational awareness. To accomplish this, there are a variety of factors of new technology and room design that need to be evaluated with the advancement of integrated systems.
But, one of the major factors that is often top-of-mind when updating these mission-critical spaces is the impact on operations. Whether your control room is small, large or multifaceted, this encompasses not only the potential disruption of the actual implementation or install, but also the short-term and long-term impact on overall operational flexibility and controller experience.
Below are 5 easy-to-implement technology solutions that will have a lasting impact on optimizing any control room.
1. Content Streaming
Because of the need to rapidly adapt operations during the COVID era, with remote and hybrid work gaining traction and the continued decentralization of control room environments, quickly sharing information and content is of the utmost concern. When critical information needs to be conveyed to decision-makers across a campus, state, country, or even the world, content streaming is a secure and inexpensive way to maintain situational awareness.
While there are many ways to perform content streaming, the most flexible platforms allow information/content to be shared out from the control room to remote stakeholders as well as into the operation center from the field. Whether it’s a Real Time Crime Center sharing a video feed with a first responder, or a substation technician sharing content back to a utility control room from the camera on their cellphone, content streaming is designed, built and deployed for the task. All that is needed to receive or send content is an internet connection and a web browser.
Example Technology: Barco SecureStream*
*Barco SecureStream does not require Barco CMS integration or for a user to have existing Barco equipment or software.
2. Color Detection
With more and more data points coming into control rooms, the ability for operators to monitor every source is nearly impossible. While there are numerous AI technologies on the market that generally apply to specific technologies, Color Detection monitors computers for color changes and can automatically trigger alarms, which improves response times and enhances productivity in control room environments. Additionally, Color Detection analyzes computer screen images on desktops or video walls for color changes without any assimilation with the specific applications being monitored. Color changes are important in a wide variety of command and control centers ranging from equipment status in Process Control, SCADA maps in utility environments, and access control in security.
Example Technology: VuWall Color Detection Server*
*VuWall Color Detection Server does not require a user to have existing VuWall equipment or software.
3. Flexible Video Conferencing
Depending on an organization’s ConOps, or Concept of Operations, video conferencing may be best served at individual operator desktops, while other organizations may have a need for room-based video conferencing; regardless, the right integrator partner will help tailor your conferencing setup to particular operator needs and business functions. Desktop video conferencing is as simple as having the necessary software installed, a USB camera, and a high-quality microphone and speaker. In control room environments, headsets are often the best option for providing the most consistent and intelligible microphone and speaker.
When it comes to room-based video conferencing, these operational considerations multiply. Understanding specific workflows in a given control room will often dictate the types of microphone(s) and camera(s) that need to be deployed. Whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx, a flexible, platform-agnostic video conferencing solution will meet your needs and is best for any mission-critical environment. This is often accomplished by leveraging a PC or laptop that launches the specified meeting platform, while the room microphone and camera are converted to USB for connection to the PC or laptop.
Example Technology: Vaddio™ AV Bridge CONFERENCE
4. Multi-Purpose Personal Headsets
Of the 5 solutions outlined in this blog, a multi-purpose personal headset may have the best ROI (return on investment). With the capability to connect to a traditional phone, a softphone application, a cell phone, and even a video conference, a personal headset provides a single, flexible audio solution for an operator. There are numerous types of headsets on the market that connect to devices in a variety of ways; ultimately, understanding the specific requirements for your organization will determine which headset is best.
As these headsets are often inexpensive, it is best practice to purchase an individual headset for each of your operators—no need to share and no risk of cross-contamination.
Example Technology: Poly Blackwire 8225
5. Larger, Higher Resolution Desktop Monitors
As has been a consistent theme throughout this blog, more and more data points or information ingested from an end-to-end system require more screen “real estate”, or space on the COP (common operational picture). In the past, organizations have typically added more monitors to an operator’s workspace rather than simply increasing the size and/or resolution. By leveraging a higher resolution desktop monitor with a larger aspect ratio, it is easier to view multiple different data points on a single pane of glass. As with all desktop monitors, there are a plethora of sizes available on the market and should be chosen based on a few factors: available space on the work surface, number and types of inputs, feature set that could be beneficial to an operator, and overall sightlines within the control room.
Example Technology: Samsung Ultra-Wide 49” Curved Monitor
Operate at Your Full Potential
If the control room is the brain of operations, then its technological components make up the nervous system that drives all decision-making. When optimized with state-of-the-art technology and outfitted so operators can benefit from mission-critical capabilities, the brain of the operations is able to think clearly and strategically—and isn’t overwhelmed with information that’s difficult to see, share and react to.
Consider the aforementioned technology solutions to upgrade control rooms and better-equip your operators. While this is not without its challenges, working with an experienced integrator and control room technology experts will ensure your operation center is future-proofed with platforms and tools tailored to specific user needs. Contact our team today.