Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A window into the control room

In any command and control environment, time is one of the most important factors. From receiving data and information from a variety of sources, to analysing it and making mission critical decisions, any delay, be it mere seconds or minutes, has the potential to negatively impact operations. This is perhaps the reason command and control environments — in industrial applications, data centres, transportation, oil & gas, security and broadcast — are such high pressure spaces.

Making sure these environments remain productive and successful comes down to their design. Of course staff, technology and operations play a key role, but the layout creates the right foundation for all the other components to fit into place.

Guided by budget, organisational structure, the room’s purpose and the staff, the success of the design process depends on the way in which the technologies within the room are brought together to create the most efficient environment. These include computers, displays, keyboards and mice, all of which need to be considered while looking at the bigger picture of room size, layout visualisation and connectivity.

Often it is supporting and enabling technologies — such as KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) — that can have the biggest impact on the control room and its employees. It can be particularly helpful in meeting operational requirements (getting the right information to the right person as quickly as possible) and ergonomic needs (making the workspace comfortable and conducive to productivity and effective decision making).

KVM, especially IP-based, high performance KVM, can help reduce the number of keyboards and mice at each console by giving operators the ability to switch between different machines from a single desktop. Users can also switch and share video and control across consoles, video walls and external collaboration rooms, which helps with supervisory control, shift handovers and hot desking. KVM also ensures that the actual computers can be removed from the room and relocated somewhere that is safer (like an access controlled server room) and can prolong the life of the machines (temperature controlled environment).

As the amount of data generated increases exponentially, time remains a critical factor in the control room for decision making. In order to keep staff in the loop, performing effectively and analysing the streams of information that are coming into the environment, it will be technologies like IP-based KVM that influence and enable the way in which these spaces are designed, operated and, ultimately, kept successful.

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