A Control Room operations center is a collaborative gathering place where one or more people see, share, and respond to information, monitoring the state of systems and places critical to the operation of an organization.

Pictured: A control room, incorporating a video wall display, operator workstations, operator console desks, chairs, and evenly-dispersed low-fatigue room lighting.
This is a control room.

Just about any kind of organization can have a Control Room operations center. Organizations like Utilities, Transportation Agencies, Emergency Operations, Governments, Military and DoD (US Department of Defense) have historically been the main users of Control Rooms, where command centers, operations centers, or SCIFs are integral to managing regular operations, events, and incidents.

Increasingly, the Private Sector and Corporate world have begun implementing a similar approach to managing their I.T. Operations (IT Ops), Cyber Security, and Security (SOC and GSOC) infrastructure, and have borrowed from the traditional Control Room industries in order to do so. Banks and Financial Institutions, Global Logistics and Shipping, Manufacturing, Energy—any company with a global footprint and/or a lot of assets and risk to manage—can benefit from a Control Room.

Activu is a firm which has been designing, building, and supporting Control Rooms and Command Centers and SCIFs with Video Walls for more than 30 years.

Video Walls often incorporate several specific attributes and qualities:

  • A display or series of displays which tile to form a contiguous image surface
    • Direct-View LED: A type of video wall display comprised of panels made up of tiny LED lights. In a control room setting, these are often 1.5mm LEDs or smaller. Currently, .9mm and .6mm DV-LED displays are increasingly being used in control room settings due to their fine, almost imperceptible, pixel resolutions.
    • LCD: A Liquid-Crystal Display, similar to the flatscreen TV in the living rooms of many homes. In a control room, these LCD panels often employ extremely thin bezels (frames) so they may be butted against eachother to create a complete image using many LCD panels, with almost no perceptible breaks between them.
    • Projection Cube or Laser Cube: A type of display that forms an image by projecting it from behind the screen, inside the display’s “cube” housing.
  • A video controller for the video wall
  • Video Wall software

What Video Walls or other kinds of large Displays and Audio-Visual components and Video Controllers (A/V) do Control Rooms use?

Pictured: A video wall display. composed of multiple displays, tiled together, with many sources of information being viewed by a control room team.
A video wall display.

A Video Wall is a group of video displays—like monitors, projection cubes TVs, flatscreen LCDs, and direct view LEDs—mounted together in a Control Room to form a continuous image, driven by a video controller. A Video Wall will often allow multiple pieces of visual information to be “visualized” together, by sub-segmenting the Video Wall to allow information to be tiled in the space.

Activu practically invented the Control Room Video Wall. From the company’s beginnings in 1983 as Imtech, whether working with NASDAQ on the very first massive MarketSite video wall, or innovating in government SCIFs requiring the very highest levels of security, Activu has gathered expertise designing and building large collaborative Video Walls, powered by video controllers, longer than any other firm.

Visability is the software platform from Activu, which empowers people to place any piece of visual content anywhere on a Video Wall, with other content from any source on the network.

Pictured: A video wall display. composed of multiple displays, tiled together, with many sources of information being viewed by a control room team.
A video wall display

The visual content Activu visability helps display on a Video Wall includes anything visual that people use to do their job in a Control Room: One, to hundreds, or thousands of real-time live video streaming feeds, screen shares and screen captures from PCs and workstations, SCADA and other specialized applications, dashboards, web pages and app windows, monitoring software, documents, images and video files, maps and schematics. Basically any Source that can be seen on a digital display can be viewed real-time in high-resolution 4k or 8k quality on a Video Wall from Activu.

A recent innovation, pioneered exclusively by Activu, is the Virtual Video Wall, which employs all the utility of a Video Wall inside a virtual Space that can easily be shared and collaborated by team members remotely, whether they are in the Control Room, another location, or even on mobile.

Another exclusive Activu advancement turns any dumb display into a Smart Video Wall, using Activu visability. Now, when visability recognizes critical alarm conditions from connected applications, like ServiceNow, Splunk, or ThousandEyes, and others, Activu’s platform instantly changes Video Wall and workstation content to display what is most relevant to that alert. Without any operator action, and without any delay to look for relevant sources of information, the visability Control Room automatically reconfigures to prepare teams with information most relevant to their most pressing challenges.

Due to the need for Control Rooms to operate 24/7/365, it is imperative that Video Walls are comprised of high-quality components that will last for years and years under these harsh operating conditions, and are backed by a trusted warranty and support service. Professional-grade displays, made specifically for Control Rooms, include those from well-regarded manufacturers like Planar and Daktronics. If you are interested in knowing more about how Control Rooms integrate new and existing displays from Planar, Daktronics, Samsung, LG, Sony, Dell, or any other, please contact Activu and we will help you review the details of any displays in your project.

What PC Workstations do Control Room Operations Centers use?

A workstation is the personal computer (PC) interface where subject matter experts and professionals in a Control Room interact with digital information. Activu visability makes changing Video Wall content seamless, simple, flexible, and instant for permissioned Control Room teams, directly from their personal workstations.

Pictured: A PC workstation display, running Activu visability video wall video controller software.
A workstation display, running Activu visability video wall controller software.

In addition, visability gives users the ability to see and interact with any critical content in their organization, without having to view it on the Video Wall at all. Through visability Desktop, Control Room users easily access all the streaming video, apps, screen shares, documents, and other Sources, from one organized, user-friendly list. Taking it a step further, users in the command center can group their most useful Sources into unlimited virtual Video Wall Spaces, which they can close and use at a later time, share with other collaborators, and work on remotely and securely from anywhere outside the Control Room on a different PC or mobile device.

Workstations typically come from PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, and others. If you are interested in knowing more about how Control Rooms integrate new and existing workstations from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, or any other, please contact Activu and we will help you review the details of any PC workstations in your project.

What Desks or Consoles are used in a Control Room?

Pictured: A control room, containing operator consoles and desks, on which sit PC workstation displays, keyboards, and mouses, with a video wall in the background.
Operator consoles, with PC workstations and displays, in a control room.

A console is a specialized kind of desk, purpose-built for a Control Room. A Control Room console combines the latest ergonomic advancements that protect users from fatigue, provide power through clean cable routing and protection for workstation PCs and workstation displays, and often contain lighting features to identify the user’s area of focus and/or help indicate the level of criticality the users are engaged with from moment to moment.

Activu visability can be configured to recognize a user who has logged into their workstation at a particular console, and adjust the height, lighting, and other features to their stored preferences instantly.

Professional-grade consoles, made for 24/7/365 use in Control Rooms, include those from well-regarded manufacturers like Evans, Tresco, and Winsted. If you are interested in knowing more about how Control Rooms integrate consoles from Evans, Tresco, Winsted, or any other, please contact Activu and we will help you review the benefits of any console system in your project.

How do Control Rooms incorporate Breakout Rooms and Conference Rooms?

Pictured: A conference room with a flatscreen display, adjacent to a control room and video wall.
A conference room with display, adjacent to a control room and video wall.

Sometimes, Control Room teams need to work a critical problem in a more intimate team environment, while the command center focuses on other monitoring and activities. For these situations, breakout rooms and conference rooms with Control Room-like a/v capabilities are imperative to ensure the people who need critical information have access to it no matter where they convene and collaborate outside the control room operations center.

Visability-enabled breakout rooms and conference rooms allow more intimate collaboration with experts, executives, and constituents from around the organization, outside the Control Room. Visability allows teams to use a conference room display, whether one or multiple, exactly as they would a Control Room Video Wall, or workstation. This ensures that anyone who needs to see, share, and respond to real-time critical information, is able to do so instantly, and seamlessly.

How to Secure a Control Room Operations Center, Command Center, or SCIF?

Control Rooms help ensure security of governments, infrastructure, corporations, financial systems, and places. Often, a Control Room must comply with some security procedures and standards, outlined by the organization which runs it.

The United States government and military strictly enforce several levels of classified and top secret security procedures and clearances in a SCIF. Due to the sensitive nature of much of these Control Rooms’ work, the security requirements are, understandably, some of the most restrictive in the world.

Activu’s Control Room operations center software is the only collaborative visual intelligence platform accredited for highly secure networks in these SCIF environments. Activu makes it simple for military command-and-control to operate collaboratively across different levels of security clearance, while ensuring no information leaks into a security zone it should not. For this reason, Activu is listed on the APL, as well as the GSA, and has met the DoDIN Information Assurance standards. Additionally. Activu provides TAA-compliant solutions meeting DFARS standards.

Other industries are held to high standards as well, such as the Utility industry, where the security of the electrical grid and infrastructure is paramount to the safety and functioning of entire populations. Here, utility control room operations centers are held to a NERC-CIP standard which ensures a uniform level of security across this sensitive segment of the infrastructure. Activu’s visability platform is completely NERC-CIP compliant.

Activu has built and supports many secure Control Rooms and SCIFs, enacting the very highest standards to hande the most sensitive data in the world. This battle-tested experience informs every Control Room project in other less secure environments, where privacy and security are still a paramount concern. Traffic, ITS, DOTS and Transit management, Airport Operations Centers (AOCs), Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), and private sector Security Operations Centers (SOCs and GSOCs) all benefit from Activu’s decades of experience in highly secure environments.

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