The Paradigm Shift in the Control Room

By Paul Noble, CEO, Activu Corporation Today’s control room is not what it was a decade ago.  Gone are the days where these spaces were based on analog or nascent digital video technology.  Control rooms have instead transformed into networked information centers that play a major role in operations; spaces where information sharing, communication and collaboration are used to enhance workflow and organizational efficiency. From AV to IT Mission critical control rooms and command centers typically feature large, centralized video wall displays where shared visual information is shown. Personnel use these displays to gain a greater understanding of the common operating picture so that they can improve decision making and enhance incident response. Large-scale visualization like this has traditionally been considered an audio-visual (AV) component of control room design, most likely due to the scale and amount of connected display components typically used. However due to advances in technology, there has been a shift from the traditional AV approach to IT-based solutions. Leaving behind the “hard-wired” model, many control rooms and command centers are using a new method of control room visualization, one that is software-based and that securely integrates with an organization’s network while using COTS IT equipment rather than proprietary AV hardware.  This new model transcends the AV limitations of cables and physical switches.  As a result information is not only shared more easily among control room personnel but these capabilities are extended beyond the confines of the control room, delivering real-time, actionable information to decision makers wherever they are including on mobile devices. A Focus on Information Sharing and Collaboration Control room visualization has become seamless visualization that extends from the individual to the group and from the physical control room or command center into remote locations and the field. Actionable information seamlessly flows whenever it is needed by decision makers, wherever they happen to be.  Whether they are in the control room, at a remote desk, part of a group discussion in a conference room or in the field, they have the tools and information they need to make smarter, faster and more collaborative decisions. Network software-based, visualization platforms integrate both with an expanding range of internal and external information sources and also integrate with the monitoring and analytical software that filters the ever-increasing information flow for actionable intelligence, allowing incident- or event-driven visualization. These platforms also integrate with and have the ability to adapt to an expanding and evolving range of display options from advanced video walls to ultra-high resolution wall mounted screens and desktop displays to tablets, smartphones and (in the future) wearable personal display technology. At the same time, they provide a virtual and dynamic shared workspace that allows decision makers to share information and ideas, engage in discussion and make optimal collaborative decisions using desktops, conference room monitors, control room video walls, laptops and mobile devices. An Epitaph The era of stove-piped, hardwired, circuit-switched, proprietary hardware driven visualization is dead. Control rooms are focused on information sharing and collaboration.  Control room visualization solutions are networked, software-based platforms, running on standard IT hardware.  They integrate deeply with an organization’s networked information technology ecosystem, delivering real-time, actionable information in the control room and beyond while allowing users to easily share information and make smarter, faster and more collaborative decisions. Interested in learning more about how a networked, software-based information sharing, collaborative visualization solution can help your control room?  View our video for additional details or request a demonstration.