Command centers are complex environments by nature. With such complexity naturally comes a number of challenges. There isn’t one single design element that will address all of the potential issues of a command center, but the totality of thoughtful design will cover all of them.
Here are some of the biggest command center issues and the elements of command center design that best address them.
Issue 1: There are more technologies to choose from than ever before
For several decades, command centers often focused on a few main technologies such as CCTV, access control, and intrusion detection. Now, organizations may need to implement several more technologies, from digital video surveillance and video analytics to mass notifications and biometrics. Not only are there more systems than ever to choose from, but there is also much more of a range of functionalities. While this means that command center capabilities are greater than ever before, it also means that making informed decisions and integrating technologies together can be complicated. It can be exciting to have so many technologies at your fingertips, but you also need to make sure that your operators can access them as easily as possible in the day-to-day operations of your command center, especially in the event of a critical incident that requires rapid response.
Solution: Professional integration ensures all your technologies work together
Working with a skilled technology planner will help ensure your project’s success. Video walls must be integrated with computer stations and workspaces along with other communication infrastructure. The room design has to incorporate all the technology integration: hardware, software, electrical, space/storage needs, and cable management. Command centers require a variety of equipment to integrate the technology: video wall screens, processors, control systems, AV racks, etc. It’s important to get it right; mission critical environments present challenges that other technology applications simply don’t have. An expert AV integrator will consider all these elements and work with your architects, electricians, and other vendors to ensure your command center has all it needs to work 24/7.
In addition, an integrator like Constant makes sure your control system is user-friendly. It’s no use having all these technologies successfully integrated if your operators can’t use them properly at a moment’s notice. Therefore, programming is an essential component of your command center control systems. Our programming department combines the disparate parts of a mission critical installation into a seamless, easy-to-operate system. When programming the control panel, we configure every element so that the behavior of the device matches what the users need in the room, complete with an intuitive interface. Programming can include preset configurations, allowing operators to complete a series of actions with a single command. This can prove beneficial when operators must quickly configure the display wall application arrangement for a tour, training exercise, or escalation of events in the operations center.
Issue 2: Assuming command center design is just combining apps and a physical space
It’s a mistake to assume that design is simply “putting together apps and a room.” With the plethora of impressive command center technologies available, it can be easy to believe that simply choosing the right apps will create a center that operates smoothly. However, the reality is that the design of a mission critical space is much more complex. Command center design needs to encompass the whole of the room’s purpose, strategy, and day-to-day function, not just its basic components.
Solution: Taking a holistic approach to designing a command center
Each component of a command center’s design should address a potential challenge and work towards the overall goal of the space. Approaching this design begins with the most basic question: what is the function of the space? Will the command center be used to monitor a fleet, keep an eye on your organization’s digital brand, or manage risks? Design decisions ultimately flow from the answer to this initial question. These include key considerations such as the best location for your command center, the kind of information that will need to be shared on your video wall, which staff teams will populate the room, how and where they will collaborate, and more. Everything from the spatial layout of the room to the video wall you select is determined by your operations center’s main function and how you plan to carry it out. Each element of design branches out into an array of options; your goal is what helps your design take shape.
Working with an integrator like Constant makes the holistic approach simple. We conduct a needs analysis at the beginning of the design process, starting with your overall goal and continuing to every last detail. We leave no stone unturned, from how many operators will populate the space to every source you plan to include on your video wall. Determining the overall goal of your space and how each element contributes to that goal allows us to set a focused path for project success, all the way from concept through completion.
Issue 3: Overlooking the practical needs of Operators
24/7 operations centers can be stressful environments. Mission critical operations centers often require long shifts which can be taxing on both mind and body. An oft-overlooked element to command center design is one of the most important: the human factor. Eye and neck strain are common issues along with general fatigue. In addition to ergonomic concerns, there are also other practical considerations relevant to the day-to-day use of the space. Can groups collaborate efficiently? Is anyone’s view obstructed? If the baseline practical needs aren’t addressed in your design, then your operations center will not perform to its full potential.
Solution: Human-focused design
There is no shortage of ergonomic features to be factored into a command center design. These can include adjustable seats and consoles, optimized screen navigation features, adjustable lighting, micro-ventilation and ambient temperature controls, and directional sound.
The human factor needs to be a key consideration in your command center design. Even subtle design elements can be important and have a positive impact on operator performance.
One of the major elements that can affect day-to-day operation is spatial design. Ultimately, good space design takes into account more than just simply the number of users. Human-centric design focuses on the relationship between the users, their workstations, and the overall function of the room. How will they interact with the room while carrying out their duties? What arrangements allow them to conduct necessary tasks more easily? If teams need to collaborate, are they situated in such a way that collaboration is easily supported? Truly effective command center design takes into account the working relationship between users, workstations, offices, common spaces, video walls, and more.
The placement of the video wall in relation to operator workstations is another key factor in human-focused design. To optimize this, Constant conducts a sight-line analysis.
The goal of a sight line analysis is to make sure that operators will have no more than 25 degrees maximum eye rotation so that they don’t have to bend their heads back to look at data displayed on the video wall. It also takes into account what would be in the field of vision to the right and left for someone sitting at a desk. Constant tries to maximize what operators can see with just eye rotation before they have to turn their heads. However, it’s not always exact, and skilled design engineers will take all elements into account to create the best possible arrangement. All of this detailed optimization is a delicate balancing act that requires the expertise of an experienced mission critical designer.
Another way to ensure the operators’ day-to-day is considered is through the choice of command center consoles. All of Constant Technologies’ command and control furniture is created with operator comfort in mind. Adjustable height consoles are a popular ergonomic choice. The ability to switch between sitting and standing positions results in less stress and fatigue.
The best command center design solution: working with Constant
At Constant, we work alongside our clients every step of the way. Whether coordinating with the electricians and contractors that are working on your site, or guiding you through educated decisions on the furniture and technology within your ops center, we approach your project through a holistic lens.
Constant Technologies has decades of experience exclusively in the field of command and control. Our turnkey solutions include design, installation, and service for both video wall systems and console furniture. If you would like to learn more about our solutions, contact us today for a free design and budget consultation.
Constant Technologies, Inc. provides AV integration for 24/7 video walls and custom operation center furniture. With 30+ years of experience, we can work with sensitive environments in the public and private sectors. Constant designs and installs projects of all scopes and sizes around the world. We also offer long-term service and support. We create solutions with the highest levels of security, aesthetics and functionality in mind.