9 Oct 2019

Editor Introduction

Along with the integration of security and other systems in an enterprise environment comes a need to centralise monitoring and control of the unified network. A control room is at the center of managing integrated systems, providing the focal point to collect information from a variety of sensors, analyse the data, and then respond appropriately. The technologies that drive these functions are changing and evolving, thus increasing the efficiency and efficacy of systems. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What’s new in command-and-control systems, and what is the impact?

Leveraging the latest enhancements in smart phones and near-field communication (NFC), command-and-control operators now have the ability to manage the physical actions of all staff is it relates to where they are in completing their assigned roles and responsibilities in the emergency action plan. No longer do operators need to be solely reliant on video surveillance, 3-way radios and whiteboards to manage an emergency.

With the introduction of iOS 11, a mobile device can now be used to read NFC tags. For command-and-control operations this means they can now automate their emergency action plans by job description to ensure staff perform exactly as outlined. Operators can also monitor staff’s progress in real-time to improve visibility and proactively identify issues to minimise the impact. Finally, the combination of this technology enables operators to run post-incident reports to support the review process and identify opportunities for improvement.

Rémi Bréval Genetec, Inc.

Traditional command-and-control systems were mostly focused on giving a visual representation of a given situation, typically via large video screens showing multiple data sources from security devices, without necessarily correlating the information. Today, with the proliferation of IoT and connected devices, and the increasing use of the cloud, security professionals are presented with multiple systems to manage, mountains of data, and numerous stakeholders to coordinate. Complicated situations demand sophisticated applications and clear, actionable data to help operators work effectively and efficiently.

Modern command-and-control systems can go beyond event monitoring by collecting and qualifying data from thousands of sensors and security devices, spotting the most complex situations and incidents, and guiding security teams in their response following organisation-specific processes and compliancy requirements. It’s a unified approach that merges data from multiple security devices and sensors, along with contextual information from related systems, and presents everything through a single pane of glass.

Mark Brown FLIR Systems

The capabilities and shelf-life of command-and-control systems is increasing thanks to architecture improvements. The adoption of modular driver-based architecture and standards-based protocols is enhancing the customer’s ability to add devices and emerging technologies without having to modify the core software platform. An oil and gas refinery using a command-and-control system could deploy thermal cameras for a perimeter intrusion detection system today.

In the future, the refinery could easily integrate a drone with the command-and-control system for automated dispatch and tracking upon a verified target detection. Ultimately, the use of device drivers empowers integrators to sell systems that can grow with their customers’ needs over time. Additionally, artificial intelligence continues to influence customer expectations and generate demand for systems that can deliver a return on investment beyond security. As a result, command-and-control systems are being used for data aggregation, analysis and metrics.

We are seeing a significant evolution in the command-and-control space, with insight becoming the key to success. The growing need in mission-critical environments to derive coalesced, contextualised, and actionable intelligence from command-and-control systems is the name of the game. But with an influx of data from various sensors, such as video surveillance, access control, and alarm notifications, this can be challenging.

Not to mention these data sources are often siloed, leading to what we call the “swivel chair” effect – causing not only a loss in productivity but essentially inhibiting any sort of streamlined or timely response. The newest command-and-control system technologies streamline data collection and analysis by prioritising video at the center and integrating additional components such as GIS maps and event management into one single pane-of-glass view. Operators can experience a complete picture of a situation with enhanced situational awareness and determine the best response in a timely fashion.

Editor Summary

Security systems today provide more data than ever from a variety of sources. Command-and-control systems supply the ability to make more sense of that data and to guide operators to a timely and appropriate response. Our Expert Panel Roundtable notes that command-and-control systems are thankfully becoming more effective than ever at a time when they are needed the most to respond to a flood of data that otherwise could overwhelm (or even immobilise) an operator.