At the start of a new year, talk of renewal is nearly omnipresent. Nowhere is renewal more important than in mission critical spaces where operations run 24/7. There is no hard and fast rule for when a command center must be refreshed, but it is vital to keep operations running at peak performance. Heather Conover, Project Manager at Constant Technologies, said, “The average refresh rate of a 24/7 operations center is about 5-7 years. Audio/visual technology changes quickly, and it’s important that mission critical spaces utilize the most reliable equipment possible.”
Danny Sasseville, Vice President of Project Engineering at Constant Technologies, had some tips for how to determine if your technology might be in need of an update. “With how quickly technology changes,” said Sasseville, “it can be hard for an operation center manager to know the best time to upgrade systems. Display technology can be daunting, and it seems as if there is something new every week.” To help determine whether you need to refresh your operations center, Sasseville recommends considering the following major elements.
It is important to consider the operating system used in your command center’s display wall processor and the life of its support. For example, processors running Microsoft Windows 7 will no longer have operating system support from Microsoft come January 2020. Your display wall processor and its available operating system support should plan an integral part in your upgrade plan.
Resolution and Aspect Ratio
The quality of your mission critical video wall display and the quality it can support reveal a lot of information about how up-to-date your operations center technology is. Older display wall technologies do not support higher resolutions. Many operators are moving to 4K desktop monitors, and those systems then have to be reduced to 1080p to be shown on the data display wall if the visualization technology is incompatible with higher resolutions. Another element to keep in mind is aspect ratio. For example, if your display is showing 16:9 content with letter boxing, it is time to update.
Digital Versus Analog
“If your displays only support analog inputs such as VGA, composite, and component,” said Sasseville, “they won’t allow for higher definition inputs without adding hardware that can scale and convert digital to analog.” With the industry shifting toward digital sourcing, it is time to update your display technology instead of continually finding workarounds for outdated inputs. In addition, most older systems do not support streaming inputs or outputs. According to Sasseville, “streaming technologies are more prevalent in today’s AV systems than ever before, and with the way things are trending they will become more and more commonplace.” The analog sunset is on the horizon. Therefore it is important to keep your display technology up-to-date before it is left behind.
Current video wall technology is brighter than ever before. In older command center installations, the lighting had to be dim in order to properly view the video display wall. Updated operations centers can have brighter lighting. This allows operators to see at their workstations without the additional assistance of task lighting. If you have to dim the lighting in your operations center in order to make the information on your data display wall legible, it is time to update the technology in your operations center space design.
Power Considerations and Green Initiatives
In many cases, the older the technology, the more power it uses to run. With rising energy costs as well as an increased focus on green initiatives, it is wise to invest in an operations center that uses less power while still operating at optimal levels. As a general rule, newer technologies tend to use less power. This is vital if your space features a 24/7 video wall. Investing in new technologies will reduce your power usage in the long run, allowing you to reach the goals of both your budget and green initiatives.
As the technology changes, so do the needs for operators’ command center workstations. Constant used to provide triple tier operations center consoles that housed bulky CRT monitors and large desktop chassis PCs. According to Ron Costa, Director of Console Operations, these consoles were huge. “But as the technology was able to scale down the size of the hardware,” said Costa, “we were able to streamline our consoles and minimize the size requirements of the console bases.” If your command center consoles feel too large for your operation, it might be time to upgrade. Modernizing technology furniture allows operators to make better use of available floor space. This could potentially even increase the capacity of operators within the same square foot area.
Even if you are not ready to replace your command center furniture entirely, Costa had some suggestions to make your current space look renewed by updating the aesthetics of existing consoles. “Adding new worktop, door, and end panel laminates can transform an outdated console with a modern look. With the addition of new monitor arms and convenience jacks, you can have a new operations center without having to replace the entire infrastructure of the consoles. We can leave the power and data cabling in place, which will save money and down time during the refresh.”
Begin Planning Today
It is never too early to begin planning an update for your current operations center space. Said Conover, “it’s a good idea to start looking at options for a refresh before the components of the room reach ‘end of life.'” In addition to turnkey installation and integration, Constant offers services to assist you in planning your operations center refresh.
In order to help visualize what your updated command center might look like, Constant can give site tours of recent projects. This is a great way to showcase new technology and modern command center aesthetics. It is also an opportunity for clients to talk to their peers about trends in mission critical operations center environments. We can also begin to develop design options to help visualize what can be improved in an updated space. Finally, Constant can help you develop a budget to see what kind of capital will be necessary for an operations center refresh.
If your space fits any of the criteria above, contact us today for your free design consultation.
Constant Technologies, Inc. is a mission critical systems integrator with experience worldwide. We provide audiovisual integration of 24/7 video walls and custom operations center furniture. We have over 30 years of experience in the mission critical sector. This gives us the knowledge and clearance to work with sensitive environments in both the public and private sectors. Constant designs, installs and services projects of all scopes and sizes. We create solutions with the highest levels of security, aesthetics and functionality in mind. Some of Constant’s installations include: Network Operations Center design, EOC builds, Fusion Centers, Security Operations Centers, Social Media Command Centers, and other command and control environments.
January 11, 2018