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Control rooms design: The need for a holistic approach

The utilization of videowall based display systems has become the prevailing technology for enhancing visualization and fostering collaboration within control rooms. But if we look at the bigger picture, a control room is much more than just a space with screens. Every facet of the control room’s design works as an indispensable component of the overall control ecosystem.

Understanding the holistic approach

A holistic approach to control room design means considering every element, from hardware and software, from AV (Audiovisual) to IT, to ergonomics, layout, furniture. The goal is to create an integrated, efficient, and optimized system for the best user experience. This approach recognizes that a control room is more than just the sum of its parts and aims to create an environment that enhances operator performance, minimizes downtime, and improves overall situational awareness. 

In control room design, a holistic approach is indispensable. It’s not merely about display technology and audio integration; it’s about weaving together a) cutting-edge technology: video walls, controller, codec compatibility, audio routing, b) optimized layout and technical furniture, c) ergonomics.  At the end of day, we must ensure seamless data visualization, communication and improved decision making. 
Hubert de Nomazy, Director of Motilde 

Crafting the perfect control room: Elements of success

Ergonomics

Efficient decision-making hinges on operator comfort. Ergonomic furniture is not an accessory but an essential prerequisite in establishing a control room that genuinely supports its human operators.  

Ergonomically designed consoles and chairs transcend the realm of comfort; they are essential for preventing operator fatigue, enhancing focus, and minimizing physical strain. 

Be careful, too, when positioning your video wall in a control room. If possible, adhere to ISO 11064 standards. These guidelines focus on ergonomic design and emphasize factors like screen distance, viewing angles, and height. Proper alignment minimizes the risk of neck strain and eye fatigue. 

What’s even more crucial than the mechanical aspects is how people interact with the system.. In this realm, ISO 11064 offers valuable insights into display layout, alarm processes, observation sequences, and more. 

Acoustics 

Effective acoustic treatment, encompassing soundproofing and noise-reducing materials, cultivates a quieter working environment. This not only enhances working conditions but also empowers operators to concentrate more effectively and communicate with precision. 

Environmental Considerations 

Environmental factors play a pivotal role in shaping the functionality of a control room. Factors to consider include: 

  • Temperature and humidity control: Maintaining a consistent and optimal temperature and humidity level is essential for both the comfort of operators and the protection of sensitive equipment. 
  • Electrical and data cabling management: Effective cable organization is critical to ensure the seamless flow of electrical and data connections while minimizing the risk of interference and accidents. 
  • Security measures: The implementation of robust security measures is paramount to safeguard the control room against unauthorized access and potential cyber threats, thus ensuring the integrity of operations and data. 
  • Layout of the control room: Positioning of workstations, videowall, freeways, etc. … is crucial to guarantee optimal ergonomics and enhance the overall user experience. 

Data Visualization, Access and Control 

The proliferation of data presents challenges around how critical information is made available to operators in and out of the control room, on video walls and workstations, and how they access the right information at the right time so they can take appropriate action.  

The growth in requirements would be impossible to manage without the increased use of large-scale distribution and visualization systems. 

“A consolidated, centralized AV solution makes it easy for control room operators to view and interact with a variety of data sources and IT systems, from multiple vendors, and provides a consolidated platform that’s easy to manage, maintain, and which can evolve over time.” 
Matthew Tibbitt, Datapath Product Manager