Agility, Going Small, and Proven Platforms Are Key Trends in Control & Control Design

Technology is a moving target, and so are the factors guiding the design, usage, and funding of agile command and control (C&C) rooms.

Here are a few key trends influencing the ever-evolving C&C space in operation today, and being planned for tomorrow.

Agility Across The Board

“Command and control rooms have become more agile than ever before,” said Suchit Rout, Barco’s director of Global Strategic Marketing, “agile in collaboration and in distributed decision making.”

In fact, agility across the board is a major C&C trend.

Take the actual physical space used for C&C operations: “Instead of having one very large room where everyone has to be located, we’re able to leverage network connectivity to share operations across separate rooms,” said Brad Herrick, vice president of AVI-SPL’s Control Room Group. “We can even distribute C&C functions across different locations in different time zones, creating virtual command and control rooms.”

At the same time, technological agility is allowing operators to establish a network of smaller C&C centers that are interconnected to each other, so that resources can be shared as needed.

“This sort of operational distribution provides a platform for specialization based either on geography or business unit focus,” said Aaron Leiker, CineMassive’s director of Sales Strategy. This approach can create built-in redundancy, he noted, when these distributed C&Cs use technology to distribute the common operating picture across multiple sites. “They can assign each other tasks, delegate responsibility, or assume control as necessary during heightened security or disaster recovery situations,” Leiker said.

Agility also applies to the ways C&C operators are managing their crisis operations. Instead of huddling together in a common space, “today decision-making is happening through collaboration across control rooms, crisis rooms, meeting rooms and through mobile devices in the field,” said Rout.

This trend is driving demand for collaborative visualization platforms rather than standalone big video walls, he said. “Display end points can be one or many, but as long as they are connected to an encompassing and secured decision-making platform the workflow can be respected; enabling faster, efficient and effective decision-making outcomes.”

Finally, agility means flexibility — and flexibility in all respects is what today’s C&C designers and operators are looking for. As a result, “platform offerings leveraging mobility, collaboration, virtualization and workflows seem to be the way to go,” said Rout.

Smaller is Better

The distributed facility approach is in line with another C&C trend, which is to reduce set-up and operating expenses by using smaller physical spaces.

“Real estate is an expensive cost,” said Herrick. “If you are able to enhance situational awareness and enhance collaboration while doing this in a smaller space, then your design will be more attractive to C&C operators.” To conserve real estate, consider installing equipment that is slim and compact, such as ultra-thin video walls.

Proven Systems Preferred

As much as C&C integrators and operators are looking for advanced technological solutions, they have a preference for reliable, predictable products and systems.

“For system integrators, dependable and proven platforms that are pre-validated and easy to install and maintain are in high demand,” said Rout. “For end users, technologies such as standard IP-based networked visualization platforms are in high demand for collaborative decision-making.” This is because IP-based solutions are known to be interoperable, scalable, and upgradable.

Secure products are a major priority for integrators and end users alike. “As new tools replace legacy systems, they are expected to be significantly less vulnerable and provide protection for the customer’s cyber infrastructure,” said Leiker. “In larger organizations with significant cyber threats, it is not enough to assume everything is protected behind their firewall: Individual systems must be secured from within as well.”

Stay Sharp!

One final trend driving C&C design and deployment is the need for AV vendors and integrators to keep up-to-date with technological change.

“We’re constantly training our people to keep up with the 'latest and greatest,' so that we can properly advise and educate our customers,” said Herrick. “Technology in the C&C space and AV in general is always changing, so making sure that we stay on top of it is critical to our business, and critical to our customers.”

James Careless is a regular contributor to AV Technology.


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James Careless

James Careless is an award-winning freelance journalist with extensive experience in audio-visual equipment, AV system design, and AV integration. His credits include numerous articles for Systems Contractor News, AV Technology, Radio World, and TV Tech, among others. Careless comes from a broadcasting background, with credits at CBC Radio, NPR, and NBC News. He currently co-produces/co-hosts the CDR Radio podcast, which covers the Canadian defense industry. Careless is a two-time winner of the PBI Media Award for Excellence.