Control Rooms for the future

Control Rooms for the future

Mr. Tanzil Mahmood, Security Professionals Association (SPA) member and Director at Human Integration Middle East, looks at what the ‘Control Room as a Service’ model offer to the security market and who needs it

Control rooms are designed to ensure maximum compliance with security, safety or operational needs, and to manage crisis situations. Today, organisations rely on their control rooms to achieve a variety of functions:

  • Physical security
  • Cyber Security
  • Employee Care & Management
  • Critical Event Management
  • Business Operations
  • Data collection, visualisation, and management

Typically, control rooms have been built in-house, but a new alternative is the Control Room as a Service (CRaaS) model. CRaaS provides specialised control room hardware, intelligent video analytics, various other software solutions, trained operators and their management – in a bundled package paid for by the client as a monthly Operating Expense (OPEX).

There are some key points to consider when deciding between a control room as on-premise or as a service model. These include:

  1. Access to budgets
  2. Real estate requirements
  3. Design of the facility, taking into consideration human requirements
  4. High HR cost for hiring experienced operators, their continuous training and working with HR developing programs to retain the talent
  5. Selection and implementation of the technologies and their maintenance
  6. Technical support, redundancy, and a Business Continuity Plan to maximise uptime
  7. Industry compliance (e.g. ISO 11064)
  8. The ease of financial forecasting – budgeting for several Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) requirements versus a fixed OPEX cost

It is best to outsource the control room to a CRaaS provider if your organisation does not have the budget; much experience with setting up a control room; or an appetite for the above requirements. Organisations with multiple remote sites will find CRaaS a viable means to outsource control room requirements, leaving the business free to focus on its core business. If the business is unable to fund an on-premise control room or the operations don’t warrant a dedicated control room, a business with a single or a few sites could also benefit from this model.

By definition, this model allows the service provider access to the data of the customer’s organisation. It is important for companies to discuss the data access issue in detail, in order to verify who will have access and where the data will be stored.

What’s next? Today, several design consultants use Virtual Reality (VR), or what is now more popularly known as the metaverse, to showcase control room facilities and furniture designs. A possible next step would be to use VR to train operators without the need to construct expensive training centres. VR could also be used to create Virtual Control Rooms, where operators could log in as soon as they put on a headset, which would eliminate or minimise the cost of expensive facilities and video walls.

Advancements in the telecommunication sector will further speed up the deployment of the CRaaS model as new IOT and 5G networks roll out across the Middle East, which would allow for greater speed, higher bandwidth, and lower cost.

The future might be here sooner than we think!