Working Together: Where Control Rooms and AV Intersect

Angela Nolan

By Angela Nolan, COO, Vistacom 

Control rooms were once used by a select few, typically government agencies and utilities. However, as our world becomes more connected, many vertical markets are embracing the technology to analyze data and appropriately respond to incidents. From college campuses to hospitals and retail stores, these control rooms are more common than ever before. As the adoption of control rooms increases across the board, it provides an opportunity for end-users to partner with an AV integrator to create a holistic approach for a security program that eliminates siloed systems and operations.

We know control rooms all share a purpose: to provide a common operational picture, mitigate threats, and promote enhanced communication during an incident. In these organizations, it’s critical to eliminate the gap between operational, technical and analytical departments to analyze needs and provide a unique solution. In turn, the user gets an operations center catered to their business goals, with the ability to scale up or down as necessary. Every control room prioritizes the management of data in different ways, so customization is paramount in implementing an effective solution. 

The intersection of AV and control rooms includes innovative technology, such as: 

Collaboration Tools

In a control room environment, operators are usually the first line of defense when it comes to identifying potential issues across an organization, making collaboration essential for success. Large-scale incidents might also require the involvement of multiple departments across an organization, which means AV tools such as video conferencing, remote dial-in, data integration software, etc., need to be utilized to ensure decision-makers have all the information they need when dealing with incidents, such as emergencies, weather-related delays and special circumstances that affect normal operations. 

Remote Functionality

Part of a control room’s applicability expands beyond its four walls, and more and more organizations are using technology that is designed to expand the reach of an operations center. The ability for information to be sent through a network from the control room to a nearby conference room or “war room” is paramount to the success of AV integration in this market. For example, operators can identify potential issues and gather the information necessary from video, audio, alarm notifications, weather-related information, etc., and send the information via the network to a nearby conference room to be displayed for a broader audience. This means incident response is streamlined and stakeholders can be involved from the beginning to help drive decision-making.

Advanced-Data Integration

When operating in a secure environment, there are a large number of sensors —such as video surveillance cameras, video management systems, intrusion and fire alarms, access control solutions and more— that must be presented seamlessly in an effort to convey the right information in the event of an incident. The integration of the data from these sources aims to provide the situational awareness necessary for improved response time, reliability and decision-making in mission-critical operations. 

Managed Services

As collaborative communication becomes part of today’s essential business practices, companies are more dependent on reliable and robust AV and conferencing technologies with maximum availability and uptime. One trend in the control room environment that is gaining traction is the ability for integrators to offer managed services, which includes remote testing, real-time monitoring, diagnostics and repair of AV systems. In this environment, users don’t have to worry about the integrity and reliability of their investments. And because any planned or unplanned downtime within a control room space can have a serious impact on operations, integrators that provide managed services can offer a variety of Service Agreements to meet customer needs, including 24/7 coverage, remote monitoring, advanced parts replacement and onsite staffing. 

As control rooms become more prevalent, it is important to look at how AV technology is strengthening these spaces and enhancing the tools already in use to make decisions and inform response. It is only through the design and implementation by AV integrators that end-users are provided with an effective security program that reduces risk, encourages compliance and streamlines operational effectiveness.