How to buy control rooms

Control rooms are undergoing a huge technological change. It’s important to take into account this complex new environment when procuring solutions, writes Kate O’Flaherty

Emergency communications of the past mostly took place through voice calls. But today this is changing with text and rich media such as video increasingly used by emergency services personnel and the public as critical events unfold.

The transformation is happening rapidly, putting immense pressure on control room operators. Indeed, they must now quickly learn new skills to ensure they can derive the right information to dispatch personnel accordingly.

Add to this the uncertainty around the launch of the Emergency Services Network (ESN), which replaces TETRA with 4G in the UK, and control rooms are struggling in the midst of a perfect storm of complexity.

“There are enormous challenges coping with unstructured, chaotic information from sources that may, or may not be, reliable in real time as a crisis unfolds,” says Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst at Critical Communications Insights. For example, he says: “What if a multiple-casualty incident happens and citizens start sending pictures and videos from an event: how do we evaluate this? It takes time to examine this information and draw conclusions beyond ‘this is a bad situation’.”

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