How to buy control rooms

Big changes are in store for control rooms, but there are differing philosophies when it comes to procurement. Sam Fenwick has the details

There is a tidal wave of change bearing down on control rooms, and while it’s for the right reasons and will benefit user organisations and the public, trying to manage the adoption of myriad interconnected technologies would be taxing in any environment, let alone one where downtime is not an option and life-or-death decisions are made on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

The situation is made yet more complicated by the fact that control room operators and their working practices must change significantly in the coming years, requiring additional training at a time when the number of people is dropping as control rooms consolidate.

In addition to the growing use of broadband devices by public safety first-responders, there are initiatives such as Next Generation 9-1-1 in the US, which Alexander Richardson, market analyst, control rooms, emergency response & critical communications at IHS Markit, says is “trying to get every public safety answering point (PSAP) to be able to take text messages, images and video”. However, he says that as call-takers are so focused on handling voice, this transition will require a lot of training and change management. There is also eCall and other programmes to allow automatic reporting of vehicle crashes, requiring measures to reduce the impact of false alerts, while APD’s Mike Isherwood cites blockchain, big data, AI and augmented reality [See the article on control rooms that was published in issue 38 of TETRA Today – Ed].

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