Control Room and Big Data

Increasingly complex and extensive systems generate huge volumes of data: knowing how to visualize and manage them is a key factor for the safety and improvement of any process.

Welcome to a smart world

The progressive depopulation of the countryside in favor of increasingly extensive and stratified cities is a trend that has been underway for a long time. Two hundred years ago only 3% of the population lived in urbanized areas; today the percentage is close to 60% and is destined to grow.

This has led to an exponential increase in complexity: just think of infrastructures, connections, moving vehicles, communications, supplies, services... in today's big cities, millions of information is constantly generated, which must be governed to ensure safety and the well-being of citizens.

Even the industrial processes and the progressive automation of systems in the transition to digital generate a huge volume of information. Today, we are witnessing machines that exchange data, networked robots with each other and artificial intelligence that preside over production phases.

The real challenge of the Control Rooms is no longer to place cameras and show signage on a videowall, but to effectively manage a huge flow of data that comes from an extremely vast and heterogeneous set of sources.

Big data management

Surveillance cameras, sensors, operating parameters of a machine, communications from mobile devices, data traffic on the network etc. are extremely varied data by the nature, quantity and speed with which they are generated.

Processing requires new, flexible and intelligent tools, because this continuous flow cannot be entrusted solely to human control, as was the case in the traditional Control Room. Although capable of making effective decisions thanks to intuition, no human operator can manage Big Data alone.

So, automatic analysis tools and artificial intelligence are needed to process the data and transform it into meaningful diagrams for the employee, who can thus not only intervene promptly, but also prevent problems.

From control to forecasting

The need for a Control Room in step with Digital Transformation is no longer just the control of complex systems, such as processes or production plants, road networks, hospitals, etc., but it is also the ability to create forecasts and therefore minimize risks.

For example, a machine can predict when it will start to malfunction, based on its performance. Displaying the data promptly and scheduling maintenance, even automatically, means avoiding the risk of breakdown.

The acquisition of large amounts of data alone is not enough: visualization systems are needed that allow the information to be managed quickly, giving operators the ability to make strategic decisions. In fact, the human capacity for data interpretation remains central, and better if done in collaboration with others.

Shared and collaborative control

The growth of the information to be controlled encourages the need for collaboration, in order to have a team of operators capable of taking the appropriate decisions together in the fields of their respective competence. This means implementing the ability of a Control Room to select and sort data to different operators, while also following a hierarchy of permissions established beforehand.

Each operator will thus have a customized control dashboard depending on their role, skills and permits, with the possibility of collaborating with others in the most effective choices to be made. The dashboard transforms the mass of incoming data into visual indicators of immediate interpretation, just as the dashboard of a car converts operating data into quadrants and images that allow optimal vehicle control.

A two-way system

By transforming the Control Room into a digital ecosystem, the surveillance activity in turn produces a mass of data that can be profitably employed. For example, work sessions can be recorded for training purposes, or used to evaluate operators' performance and obtain useful indications for process improvement.

In conclusion

The progressive growth of data from complex and technologized spaces requires a profound rethinking of the Control Room and its tools.

Surveillance audio-video systems are only part of a cluster of sources that includes the Internet, social networks, apps and mobile devices, Internet of Things, home automation systems, artificial intelligence... This incessant flow, converted into dashboard indicators, allows to increase efficiency: for example, putting in place preventive actions, shortening reaction times to emergencies, lowering risks.

In addition, it facilitates collaboration between operators and helps them make the most appropriate decisions quickly, even on the move. Finally, it produces useful information to ensure continuous improvement in service levels.

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