Control Room Management in an Information-Dense Age

Control Room Management in an Information-Dense Age

Managers at command and control centers perhaps have the longest history, most experience and greatest agility when it comes to managing mobile communications. We've asked some of the people responsible for developing command and control room solutions to provide some insight and best practices.

Contemporary Lifecycle Planning Essentials

"The next generation of command and control is characterized by the proliferation of personal information devices and an increasingly decentralized workforce," said CineMassive strategist, Business Development, Katie Barter.

To succeed in these new conditions, control room managers must have dynamic tools that enable them to aggregate information from disparate, physically separate sources and disseminate information back out to relevant stakeholders, regardless of their information viewing device or physical location. "As device display resolutions and information consumption rates continue to increase, information systems will continue on a trajectory towards ever-higher information density," Barter notes. "Modern information systems need to anticipate future bandwidth requirements and embrace fiber optic infrastructure rather than copper wherever possible."

Plan for what is going to be needed two years from now, Bob Ehlers, vice president, Marketing and Vertical Market Development, at RGB Spectrum, said. "If I’m building a command center, it assumes that we’re going to be using cell phone technology as a client of the information that I’m managing. It’s not if, but when."

Ehlers urged, "You need to make sure you have the capacity to handle all of these devices on the out-bound side. On the in-bound side, with the Internet of Things, everything is going to be reporting its status; everything is a sensor, so that means I’m going to have a lot more information coming in, and I’m going to have a lot more summarization that’s going to have to happen." That big data is just going to get bigger.

Mobility Means Latency

The question of remote connectivity and video imaging quality, Ehlers said, "comes down to requirements around latency, and there are tradeoffs. I can send you a very pristine, very high-quality, lightweight compressed image in 10 megabits per second, or I can send you the same image that may still be useful for you in a much smaller 1 or 2 megabits per second."

During the planning process the discussion of what is important needs to happen; "bandwidth consumption, speed of delivery or latency, or video quality," Ehlers said.

Remote Control Rooms Offer Scalability

Darrin Thurston, vice president of Engineering at Vaddio, talks about how companies can benefit from consolidating control rooms designed to monitor meeting rooms and classroom, video collaboration and production activities.

Rather than physically going to the meeting room when there is a scheduled meeting, a remote network operator can make sure the room is up and going. He looks into the room remotely, puts the cameras where they need to be and checks the audio. There are a lot of instances where it's just a maintenance check.

"The nice thing about virtualization is that it is not a physical limitation of my cabling at that point. It gives you the ability to scale. For instance, one operator may be able to handle four rooms if there's not a lot of interaction in the classroom; one professor may be lecturing and there maybe there three or four camera shots, a couple of audio transitions."

Thurston says that as you scale down, the actual day-to-day management of it [remote AV control] will fall to the IT department. They might not know the ins and outs of how AV works, but [that ’s why] you have simplified control. You don't need to don't know a lot about AV to drive a camera. The joystick and interface are very intuitive. However, if you are an AV person, there are more advance features if you want to up the quality of production, you have access to that.

"Paired with that are the enterprise and device management functions to notify the health of your system. If I am 'remoting' my operations, I need to have the ability to send the diagnostics information to me. If a particular piece of equipment failed or was having an issue, you're not physically in the room to check that."

Cindy Davis is a regular AV Technology magazine contributor.

Pictured: a command & control center supported by Technical Innovation.

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Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.