How can control room operators survive today’s challenges?
Information. It’s both the biggest blessing and challenge for control room staff. The tremendous rise of data available indeed potentially enables better informed decision-making. But sheer volume of data processing through control rooms can be overwhelming and puts a lot of pressure on operators and equipment. The transformation from manual to automated monitoring has started, but what exactly does this mean for control rooms, and which investments should be made to answer upcoming challenges?
20 years ago, almost all tasks in the control room were manual. Several operators monitored a multitude of sources and reported any issue they noticed. Over the years, the number of sources expanded, and automation helped the operators to cope with the information overload. For example, cameras only became active when movements were detected. But information sources kept increasing, and now we’re transitioning towards AI-supported decision-making. The systems analyze the information and present any anomaly. The human decides if this is a real issue and takes the necessary actions.
The answer to this transition is technology. Not only the AI-powered applications, but also the control room platform plays an essential part. Let’s look at the specific requirements this technology should support.
Monitoring, analyzing, reporting, … The job of the operator is challenging. So, the technology should never add an additional layer of complexity. The control room equipment should therefore be quick to learn and intuitive to use. Additionally, a consistent look and feel across all information is a must, so that no unnecessary mistakes are made.
Providing a complete overview is impossible without integration of all information sources on one system. Having all data available in the same system sounds logical, but is in many cases a huge hurdle. This is especially the case when dealing with secure networks and legacy systems. The control room software platform should therefore work API first, offering easy ways to interconnect. Interaction with intelligent cameras and third-party devices for example, lead to the essential viewing operators need to improve decision-making.
However exciting and promising the future may be, there are still a lot of answers to be found in the past. So legacy systems should never be overlooked. Integrating old and new signals (such as EV alarms) results in a powerful mix – and allows for a more gradual transition.
Control rooms are often critical environments, so security is an essential component. The control room software should therefore be built from a secure core and have the necessary protocols in place to react on any threat.
A platform without the potential to upgrade is a dead platform. This goes for expansion of the network (for example, adding an additional control room in a remote location), or the addition of features.
When designing CTRL, Barco’s new control room software and hardware platform, these topics were on top of the requirements list. By implementing them, Barco created a product that is truly ready for the future, helping operators and businesses survive the workloads of today – and tomorrow!
Charlene Chedi, Global Segment Marketing Manager, Barco