Download PDF version Contact company

As everyone enters the New Year, and close out a tumultuous year of challenges and changes, it's a great time to look ahead and share some thoughts on what one can expect in the near future. Below are the top seven technology trends we see for Operation Centers and Control Rooms in 2021.

1) Remote access to support control room operators 

2020 may well be declared the year of work from home, and that has had an impact on control room and operation center operators just as much as everyone else. Throughout the year, Userful saw an increase in requests from organizations looking for solutions to enable their operation center and control room operators to work remotely.

While COVID 19 related work restrictions will decline in 2021, this "anywhere operations model" is here to stay for 2021 as explained in Gartner's 2021 technology report: "An anywhere operations model will be vital for businesses to emerge successfully from COVID-19. At its core, this operating model allows for business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere."

Every organization looking to invest in new control room solutions or retrofit existing centers will want to ensure their operators can work from anywhere. Userful's Visual Networking Platform is a pioneer in delivering remote access and enabling borderless control rooms.

2) Increasing the amount of content 

One of the trends we've seen in 2020 which will carry on into 2021 is an increase in the number of operations centers and control rooms sharing sources not just to remote workers but to other offices and operation centers.

Digital transformation initiatives and in part by globalization have resulted in more and more interconnectedness of offices and teams collaborating across the country and around the world.

Consider some of the many scenarios in which key people involved in mission-critical decisions might not be within the four walls of the operations center:

  • Key personnel may be working from home
  • Another agency providing oversight may be located in another office.
  • Due to an emergency onsite, it may be a team in a second redundant location that is helping make decisions
  • The first responders who need real-time information may actually be out in the field
  • If upper management needs to be kept informed, they may be located in a different part of the country, or even in a different country


In today's interconnected world, scenarios such as these are more common than they ever have been before. In 2021 we see this trend increasing and Userful is ready.

The supervisor dashboard allows managers to view content on remote video walls, our virtual operations center allows for remote collaboration and operation centers can share content with one another over the WAN. 

3) Increased use of AI and Computer vision 

Computer vision and AI are supporting Control Room operators by applying to compute intelligence

In December 2020, Gartner listed Computer vision as an Emerging Technology, stating that, "Computer vision technology is driving innovation across many industries and use cases and is pushing the business application of artificial intelligence into new frontiers."

Computer vision and AI are supporting Control Room operators by applying to compute intelligence and power to augment the human eye. With the rapid increase in video sources, it's difficult for operators to identify key events in video streams.

Computer vision can now do this and create trigger events on a video wall that brings an event to the attention of operators. In time sensitive situations, this is a key new technology that helps reduce response times and allows operators to be more proactive and less reactive. Userful integrates with multiple Computer Vision products and our API makes it easy to integrate other AI applications. 

4) Software will continue to take market share 

This is another trend that has been underway for years and is driven in part by many of the other trends cited above. In the past, AV solutions have been predominantly built on specialized or proprietary hardware.

They have said it before and will say it again: the ROI for display solutions in operation centers and control rooms is in the intelligence added by the software layer. Hardware will always play a role, but the software is where the innovation lies, and software is the story for 2021 as it was for 2020.

Userful is unique in the video wall marketplace software and cloud-enabled platform that operates on commercially-available off-the-shelf hardware.

5) LED will continue taking market share from LCD

Expect to see more and more direct view LED walls in operation centers and control rooms

This has been a trend over the past couple of years that will accelerate in 2021. In the past control room and operation, centers have been slow to roll out LED walls due to the pixel pitch (in the past, LED walls haven't provided enough resolution compared to an LCD video wall of the same size). This has been changing with denser LED pixel pitches.

With the advent of mini and micro LED the pixel density is rapidly increasing. Gartner's Hype Cycle for Display and Vision, 2020, lists mini LED at the very top point of the hype cycle.

The advantages LED has with a significantly longer life cycle and no bezels in the display canvas are big attractions. Expect to see more and more direct view LED walls in operation centers and control rooms. Userful supports just about any display from LCD screens and projectors to direct-view LED walls, including multi-controller LED walls.

6) More operation centers monitoring more data 

With a steadily increasing number of data points from AI, IoT, and other digital transformation projects, it's hard to believe there could still be more data points, video streams, and information sources to monitor.

But looking through Gartner's reports for 2021, it's easy to spot the many new trends that will increase the number of operation centers companies deploy and will also increase the number of sources and data points.

Two great examples: monitoring behavioral data for the IoB (Internet of Behavior) a new trend that Gartner believes is going to have a greater role in business this year. Hyper Automation is another example that Gartner cites as a growth area for 2021.This too will create more data points, video streams, and information sources to be monitored.

7) Cybersecurity will be top of mind 

According to Gartner, network security teams are struggling to have complete visibility across multiple vendors, and maintaining continuous compliance is becoming a bigger challenge. More apps, devices, content, and access points across the network lead to increased risk. 

IT teams are increasingly taking responsibility for deploying and managing AV solutions as more and more AV solutions require network access.

The fact more and more Operation Centers and Control Rooms are network-connected and the trends towards remote access and content sharing outside the four walls of the control room will bring cybersecurity to the front of mind for IT teams.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What Are New Trends In Residential Security?
What Are New Trends In Residential Security?

Residential security and smart homes are rapidly changing facets of the larger physical security marketplace, driven by advances in consumer technology and concerns about rising crime rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people spent more time at home and became more aware of the need for greater security. As workplaces opened back up, returning workers turned to technology to help them keep watch over their homes from afar. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the trends in residential security in 2021?

How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work
How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organizations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organizations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organizations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organizations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organizations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorized access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting cellphone credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics
Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics

Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognizing the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of leveling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalized access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorized tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorized building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorized people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options, the biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.