Userful Corporation
Download PDF version Contact company

In mission-critical operations, details matter. Even small reductions in response times and efficiency improvements can help mitigate the impact of incidents and even save lives.

When setting up an operations center or control room, the approach needs to be both detailed and holistic to ensure maximum efficiency. It's vital to consider not just immediate needs but also future trends which will ensure your mission-critical infrastructure is set up for success today and for years to come.

Helping improve efficiency

When setting up your operations center or control room, don't wait until after the room has been designed to consider what technology is required. Design the space around the workflow and technology needed for it to operate, not vice versa.

It's important to have a consensus on what critical information needs to be displayed or shared

Understanding the workflow of your organization is the first step. It's important to have a consensus on what critical information needs to be displayed or shared and who needs to see it for situational awareness. Your organization should be thinking not just about today's workflow, but also considering future needs. What advancements in technology can help improve efficiency?

Mission-Critical environment

When planning for a mission-critical environment, include the decision-makers in your IT department from the very beginning. This will ensure security considerations are brought up early. The IT department is going to be able to identify potential security vulnerabilities and risks and can advise on the technology infrastructure needed.

Questions to consider during this phase include:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What critical information needs to be visualized and where?
  • What assumptions have you made that could cause issues later on?
  • Who can help guide you on new technology to support situational awareness? Are you talking to a subject matter expert?
  • Now or in the future will you need to share content outside the four walls of the control room?
  • Does your workflow allow for a distributed workforce?

Operator-Led discussion

Anyone in the planning phase of a control room should understand the spatial factors

Spatial planning should be an operator-led discussion because operators are the end-users of the control room and the people who are most often in the space for extended periods of time. An operator's primary responsibility is to monitor, analyze, translate and make rapid real-time decisions based on the information being shown.

It is paramount that they are able to stay focused at all times. Anyone in the planning phase of a control room should understand the spatial factors that can impact operators' ability to make critical decisions. Some considerations:

  • Number of operators in the space.
  • Type of content and display technology used-- undertake a sightline analysis to ensure operators have uninterrupted visibility.
  • Ambient light, noise, and room color need to be considered to avoid distraction.
  • Ensure the room is compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to allow an accessible environment for all.
  • User interface--touch panel vs. desktop, the ease of use of the software for operators.
  • Furniture considerations--ensure mobility around work desks. Sit-stand work desks are now popular. It's also important to ensure cable routing isn't a problem by using raised flooring or accessible ceilings.

Decreasing operator fatigue

Planning around the factors listed above will set your operators up for success

Planning around the factors listed above will set your operators up for success and help decrease operator fatigue (mental alertness, visual acuity, and stress) which will help reduce potential errors. There are many things to consider in order to sufficiently set up your operator workstation including making sure they have the right equipment and connections. Other considerations include:

  • Identifying the required power and data needed at each workstation.
  • How the operator will interact with PCs if in a rack.
  • Are there other AV devices needed at the desk?
  • Will your operators be working independently or with other operators?
  • How many displays will the operators need?
  • Will the orientation of operators' displays impact sightlines?
  • Does the operator workstation interact with the video wall?
  • Equipment considerations such as microphone, speakers, headset, and touch panel.
  • Do operators need access from home or a remote site?

When consulting with your operators in the planning phase, it's important to design the workstation around their workflow and specific requirements.

Major security concerns

Because most AV hardware is proprietary in nature, it causes major security concerns

In the past, the AV industry as well as the solutions offered to control rooms and operation centers have been dominated by hardware-centric solutions that are proprietary in nature. This has had a negative impact on security compliance, workflow management, and even Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in control rooms and operation centers.

Because most AV hardware is proprietary in nature, it causes major security concerns. The IT organization responsible for managing it rarely has visibility into it and when they do it often raises red flags.

Hardware-Centric solutions

Flexibility, scalability, and interoperability are needed to support dynamic standard operating procedures and emergency response plans. Adding new sources, displays, add-on solutions and features can be severely limited by the proprietary nature of legacy AV solutions.

Hardware-centric solutions need to be refreshed roughly every five years. In many cases, newer hardware releases cause existing hardware to become the end of life. This may force a refresh of hardware before the normal five-year timeline. Keep in mind, opting for proprietary hardware creates vendor lock-in which limits customers' options for procurement, support, and future deployments.

Open technology software

A software-based approach gives an operation center scalability, security, and interoperability

Alternatively, standards-based, open technology software can be paired with commercially available off-the-shelf hardware and make it easier for an IT department to provide front-line support. This is the Userful approach and it makes it easier to integrate with third-party applications, ensures interoperability, and reduces security risks. A software-based approach gives an operation center scalability, security, and interoperability.

  • Software-defined solutions provide faster tool updates and the ability to add new functionality.
  • Software running on standard, commercially available hardware is easier to troubleshoot and maintain due to accessible skilled support from any IT department.
  • Software can easily integrate third-party, legacy, cloud-based, IoT applications with less overhead than proprietary hardware.
  • Software integrates to IT stack/network/architecture, meaning IT teams can use the same security and privacy protocols already in place. Proprietary hardware is usually a closed system with no visibility to IT, thus they can't apply security protocols.

Computer vision solution

Any operations center that is using video data needs to consider the addition of a computer vision solution. Given the rapid increase in video data this is the only scalable way to ensure operators have true, proactive situational awareness.

Any operations center that is using video data needs to consider computer vision solution

Two challenges for any operations center considering computer vision: first identifying the right product and separating hype from reality and second making sure that any computer vision solutions added to the operation centers are truly interoperable. If you are planning to build an operations center or upgrade your existing operations center, schedule a free consultation call with one of our Operation Center and Control Room Experts to help you understand how to achieve your goals and ensure your organization is able to scale with the ever-increasing volume of video data.

Technology purchasing decision

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a key metric in any technology purchasing decision. This calculation includes the upfront costs of deploying an operations center or control room and the total ongoing operating costs. Userful is a pioneer in reducing customers' TCO and does this in several key ways:

  • Userful requires significantly less hardware than the competition and uses only commercially available and off the shelf hardware, unlike many AV vendors who rely on specialized or proprietary hardware.
  • Off the shelf hardware means no vendor lock in on hardware which can result in significant cost savings over time when hardware needs to be upgraded or replaced.
  • Less hardware results in less electricity, fewer plugs and reduces the need for electric or HVAC upgrades.
  • Userful is a software first solution which means its features and functionality are driven by software and when new releases come out, all customers receive them. This ensures that every operation center and control room stays up-to-date with the latest technology.
  • Ongoing support and new features are all included with Userful.

There is a lot that goes into the planning and execution of an effective and sustainable operations center or control room and reading the blog above is a good first step.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Userful Corporation news

Userful Launches New Corporate Signage Application Signaling Breakthrough In Visual Engagement For The Enterprise

Userful Corporation, the provider of the foremost software-defined AV-over-IP platform for the enterprise, announces the release of a new corporate signage application as a part of its award-winning Visual Networking Platform—Userful Emerald Signage. The Emerald Signage application sits at the front-end of the Visual Networking Platform and enables corporate end-users—from the heads of HR departments to communications managers or administrative staff—to easily author, deploy a...

SpearTip Trusts Userful For Their Mission Critical Security Operations Center

SpearTip is a cyber-counterintelligence firm that proactively protects its diverse range of multinational clients against cyber threats of all kinds. Their team of security analysts is constantly monitoring malicious activity and potential vulnerabilities to provide their clients with industry-leading protection. The 24/7/365 Security Operations Center (SOC) is at the heart of its counterintelligence activity. The SpearTip SOC is a busy place with as many as 25 or 30 people on the floor at once...

Why Visualization Platforms Are Vital For An Effective Security Operation Center (SOC)

Display solutions play a key role in SOCs in providing the screens needed for individuals and teams to visualize and share the multiple data sources needed in an SOC today. Security Operation Center (SOC) Every SOC has multiple sources and inputs, both physical and virtual, all of which provide numerous data points to operators, in order to provide the highest levels of physical and cyber security, including surveillance camera feeds, access control and alarm systems for physical security, as...

Userful Corporation case studies

Userful Provides Their Visual Networking Platform Solution To Enhance The Operations Of EMT’s Command Center

The Empresa Malagueña de Transportes (EMT) manages a fleet of 242 vehicles, distributed across 47 lines in a city of almost 570 thousand people in the south of Spain. They also have a customer service office in the city center. EMT monitors the entire transportation system from a single command center run by a 4-inspector team. The team leverages the city’s network of approximately 80 traffic cameras as well as proprietary cameras installed in strategic places and inside the vehicl...

Userful Powers Control Room At Leading Midwest Communications Provider With Multi-Zone, Multi-Source Video Wall

Control room video walls provide the most versatile way to visualise and monitor multiple data sources and inputs simultaneously. This video wall case study showcases the power and flexibility of the Userful video wall controller software and video wall processor in a control room / Network Operations Center (NOC) environment. Monitoring operations Lightbound, a leading internet, voice, and data solutions provider in Indianapolis (USA) deployed an 8-display video wall in the Network Operations...

Userful Corporation Deploys Visual Networking Platform To Sigma Alimentos

Userful Corporation, a renowned provider of AV-over-IP solutions for enhanced video communication since 2015, announced that Sigma Alimentos, a popular global branded refrigerated food company, has deployed Userful video wall technology at its headquarters’ main control room. Sigma Alimentos is headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, and maintains operations in the U.S., Mexico, Latin America, and Europe. The company’s 2017 revenues totaled more than 3 billion and it deploys a fleet of...