Download PDF version Contact company

As everyone enters the New Year, and close out a tumultuous year of challenges and changes, it's a great time to look ahead and share some thoughts on what one can expect in the near future. Below are the top seven technology trends we see for Operation Centers and Control Rooms in 2021.

1) Remote access to support control room operators 

2020 may well be declared the year of work from home, and that has had an impact on control room and operation center operators just as much as everyone else. Throughout the year, Userful saw an increase in requests from organisations looking for solutions to enable their operation centre and control room operators to work remotely.

While COVID 19 related work restrictions will decline in 2021, this "anywhere operations model" is here to stay for 2021 as explained in Gartner's 2021 technology report: "An anywhere operations model will be vital for businesses to emerge successfully from COVID-19. At its core, this operating model allows for business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere."

Every organisation looking to invest in new control room solutions or retrofit existing centres will want to ensure their operators can work from anywhere. Userful's Visual Networking Platform is a pioneer in delivering remote access and enabling borderless control rooms.

2) Increasing the amount of content 

One of the trends we've seen in 2020 which will carry on into 2021 is an increase in the number of operations centres and control rooms sharing sources not just to remote workers but to other offices and operation centres.

Digital transformation initiatives and in part by globalisation have resulted in more and more interconnectedness of offices and teams collaborating across the country and around the world.

Consider some of the many scenarios in which key people involved in mission-critical decisions might not be within the four walls of the operations centre:

  • Key personnel may be working from home
  • Another agency providing oversight may be located in another office.
  • Due to an emergency onsite, it may be a team in a second redundant location that is helping make decisions
  • The first responders who need real-time information may actually be out in the field
  • If upper management needs to be kept informed, they may be located in a different part of the country, or even in a different country


In today's interconnected world, scenarios such as these are more common than they ever have been before. In 2021 we see this trend increasing and Userful is ready.

The supervisor dashboard allows managers to view content on remote video walls, our virtual operations centre allows for remote collaboration and operation centres can share content with one another over the WAN. 

3) Increased use of AI and Computer vision 

Computer vision and AI are supporting Control Room operators by applying to compute intelligence

In December 2020, Gartner listed Computer vision as an Emerging Technology, stating that, "Computer vision technology is driving innovation across many industries and use cases and is pushing the business application of artificial intelligence into new frontiers."

Computer vision and AI are supporting Control Room operators by applying to compute intelligence and power to augment the human eye. With the rapid increase in video sources, it's difficult for operators to identify key events in video streams.

Computer vision can now do this and create trigger events on a video wall that brings an event to the attention of operators. In time sensitive situations, this is a key new technology that helps reduce response times and allows operators to be more proactive and less reactive. Userful integrates with multiple Computer Vision products and our API makes it easy to integrate other AI applications. 

4) Software will continue to take market share 

This is another trend that has been underway for years and is driven in part by many of the other trends cited above. In the past, AV solutions have been predominantly built on specialised or proprietary hardware.

They have said it before and will say it again: the ROI for display solutions in operation centers and control rooms is in the intelligence added by the software layer. Hardware will always play a role, but the software is where the innovation lies, and software is the story for 2021 as it was for 2020.

Userful is unique in the video wall marketplace software and cloud-enabled platform that operates on commercially-available off-the-shelf hardware.

5) LED will continue taking market share from LCD

Expect to see more and more direct view LED walls in operation centers and control rooms

This has been a trend over the past couple of years that will accelerate in 2021. In the past control room and operation, centres have been slow to roll out LED walls due to the pixel pitch (in the past, LED walls haven't provided enough resolution compared to an LCD video wall of the same size). This has been changing with denser LED pixel pitches.

With the advent of mini and micro LED the pixel density is rapidly increasing. Gartner's Hype Cycle for Display and Vision, 2020, lists mini LED at the very top point of the hype cycle.

The advantages LED has with a significantly longer life cycle and no bezels in the display canvas are big attractions. Expect to see more and more direct view LED walls in operation centers and control rooms. Userful supports just about any display from LCD screens and projectors to direct-view LED walls, including multi-controller LED walls.

6) More operation centres monitoring more data 

With a steadily increasing number of data points from AI, IoT, and other digital transformation projects, it's hard to believe there could still be more data points, video streams, and information sources to monitor.

But looking through Gartner's reports for 2021, it's easy to spot the many new trends that will increase the number of operation centers companies deploy and will also increase the number of sources and data points.

Two great examples: monitoring behavioral data for the IoB (Internet of Behaviour) a new trend that Gartner believes is going to have a greater role in business this year. Hyper Automation is another example that Gartner cites as a growth area for 2021.This too will create more data points, video streams, and information sources to be monitored.

7) Cybersecurity will be top of mind

According to Gartner, network security teams are struggling to have complete visibility across multiple vendors, and maintaining continuous compliance is becoming a bigger challenge. More apps, devices, content, and access points across the network lead to increased risk. 

IT teams are increasingly taking responsibility for deploying and managing AV solutions as more and more AV solutions require network access.

The fact more and more Operation Centers and Control Rooms are network connected and the trends towards remote access and content sharing outside the four walls of the control room will bring cybersecurity to the front of mind for IT teams.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?
How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?

Since the advent of the physical security industry, access control has been synonymous with physical cards, whether 125 kHz ‘prox’ cards or the newer smart card alternatives. However, other credentials have also come on the scene, including biometrics and even smart phones. Some of these choices have distinct cost and security advantages over physical cards. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How soon will the access control card become extinct and why? 

Addressing the Internet Of Things (IoT) and challenges in device design using a comprehensive approach
Addressing the Internet Of Things (IoT) and challenges in device design using a comprehensive approach

As the number of connected devices increases worldwide, the ways that they are being used, designed, and tested have also expanded. The rise of connected devices is demanding engineers to harness the power of the internet of things, which is expected to hit 28 billion by 2025. A comprehensive approach to device design is needed more than ever to address the challenges that this rapid growth will bring. Why engineers should be using IoT technology in product design The demand for devices designed to use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology is increasing as more industries are finding expanded ways to put them into use. Industries such as healthcare, automobiles, and agriculture are becoming more dependent on cloud capabilities and are therefore in need of new devices able to connect to it. Due to this rise in demand, an increasing amount of devices are delivering a multitude of benefits both to consumers and companies. However, this new wave of products has led to a growing list of challenges for engineers as they are forced to address IoT tech in regards to connectivity, regulations, longevity, and security. Ways to use IoT in the development process Engineers are facing these new challenges along with the normal pressure of deadlines and test considerations. By approaching all of these issues from a comprehensive point-of-view, the solutions become clearer and new device capabilities can be born. Let’s look at the challenges individually as well as possible solutions for them. Improving connectivity IoT enables data to be transferred between infrastructure, the cloud, and devices, making the process smooth  Because IoT is based around connection, it’s no surprise that the primary challenge for engineers to overcome is the improvement of connectivity between devices. IoT enables data to be transferred between infrastructure, the cloud, and devices, so making this process as smooth as possible is crucial. The main challenges involved with connectivity have to do with development and product testing while meeting industry standards and best practices. Additionally, many companies lack the necessary equipment and technology to develop new IoT devices, which makes it difficult to create scalable prototypes and test new products. Suggested solutions To address the issue of not having the expertise and necessary tools for testing, we suggest outsourcing the prototyping and evaluation process instead of attempting to tackle this in-house. By doing this, you’re able to free up resources that would otherwise be needed for expensive equipment and qualified staff. Helping comply with regulations When working with devices that are connected across the world, there is a complex web of regulations and conformance standards that can lead to challenges for engineers. The necessity of complying with these regulations while also pushing to meet deadlines can be burdensome and lead to an increase in production time and expenses. Failure to comply with global and regional laws, as well as system and carrier requirements, can lead to fines and costly setbacks. This type of failure can destroy a company’s reputation on top of causing financial losses, often leading to the loss of business. Suggested solutions By testing the IoT device design and components early, engineers can address any pre-compliance issues that may arise. During the early stages of development, we suggest using scalable and automated test systems readily available in the marketplace. Improved communication with other devices New challenges arise as new devices hit the market and existing technologies are redesigned to offer a better experience In the rapidly growing number of connected devices, new challenges will arise as new devices hit the market and existing technologies are redesigned to offer a better user experience. This rapid growth in devices will lead to congested networks leading to the necessity of devices being able to function in the midst of increased traffic and interference. Failure to do this will lead to delayed responses which could prove to be fatal. Suggested solutions The best solution for this issue is found in the evaluation process and supporting test methods that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published in the American National Standard for Evaluation of Wireless Coexistence (ANSI). This process addresses the interconnectivity issues present in radio frequency environments. The outlined process involves defining the environment and evaluating the wireless performance of the equipment through thorough testing. An in-depth version can be found in its entirety online. Increasing the longevity of devices IoT devices are being used in vital industries such as healthcare and automotive so battery life and power consumption are two challenges that engineers must take seriously. A failure in this area could potentially lead to loss of life or safety concerns on the road. As new firmware and software are being designed to address these factors, engineers must be implementing them into IoT devices with the ability to be continually updated. Suggested solutions Longevity should be addressed in all aspects of the design process and tested thoroughly using a wide range of currents. By doing this, an engineer can simulate consumer applications to best predict performance. Security Security and privacy are concerns with any technology, but with the use of IoT in medical devices, it’s paramount Security has been a controversial issue for IoT since its inception. Security and privacy are concerns with any technology, but with the widespread use of IoT in medical devices, smart home appliances, and access control and surveillance, it’s paramount. For example, medical devices may store information about health parameters, medications, and prescriber information. In some cases, these devices may be controlled by an app, such as a smart pacemaker, to prevent heart arrhythmias. Naturally, a security issue in these devices could be devastating. Another example of dangerous security concern is with surveillance cameras and access control, such as for home or business security systems. These intelligent door locking systems contain locks, lock access controllers, and associated devices that communicate with each other. Suspicious activities are flagged with alerts and notifications, but if a hacker gains access, it can lead to real-world, physical danger. Security design points Here are some key points for security design: Physical security: IoT devices may be in external, isolated locations that are vulnerable to attack from not only hackers but by human contact. Embedding security protection on every IoT device is expensive, but it’s important for general security and data safety. Security of data exchange: Data protection is also important because data gets transmitted from IoT devices to the gateway, then onto the cloud. With surveillance and access control information or sensitive medical information, and encryption is vital to protecting data from a breach. Cloud storage security: Similar to data exchange, the information stored in medical devices, surveillance and access control systems, and some smart appliances with payment features, must be protected. This includes encryption and device authentication through access control, which can police what resources can be accessed and used. Update: Security vulnerabilities will always occur, so the key to addressing them is having a plan to address errors and release patches. Customers should also have options to secure devices quickly and effectively. Suggested solutions Engineers can include security and protection into IoT devices with early and perpetual testing throughout the design process. Most security breaches occur at endpoints or during updates, giving engineers a starting point for how to address them. Creating more secure devices Ensuring the security of connected devices should be of supreme importance for engineers as these devices are vulnerable to security breaches. The ultimate security of devices goes beyond the scope of engineering as the network and enterprise levels must also be secure to protect against potential threats. However, engineers play a role in this protection as well and should consider device security in the design process. Suggested solutions On a device level, engineers can help protect IoT devices from vulnerabilities by implementing early testing and continuing it throughout the design process. Most security transgressions occur at endpoints so this continual testing can, and should, create barriers to breaches. Regulations and compliance For IoT engineers, the complex web of regulations and compliance standards present new challenges Regulations and compliance surrounding data and technology are nothing new, but for IoT engineers, the complex web of regulations and compliance standards present new challenges. Engineers are already addressing obstacles in security and connectivity, all while meeting deadlines, and working around regulations adds time and expense to the process. Unfortunately, a failure to comply with global, regional, or local laws can lead to setbacks and fines. In addition to time lost in production and possible fines, the damage to a company’s reputation can lead to even more losses. Suggested solutions Compliance should be considered early and often in the design process. In the early stages of development, the IoT device or components can be tested to address and compliance issues. If possible, use a scalable and automated test system. The comprehensive solution As we stare at an uncertain future full of possibilities, it’s clear to see that new challenges will continue to be presented as technology evolves and new innovative devices are designed by engineers. By addressing these issues early and often, solutions can be implemented and problems prevented before they even have a chance to occur thanks to sound engineering and solid design.

Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis
Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis

The UK Government is consulting on plans to introduce a new law requiring operators of public spaces to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack. Under the proposals outlined in the consultation document, those responsible for a publicly accessible location will have a ‘protect duty.’ The protect duty would apply to certain publicly accessible locations, widely defined as ‘any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.’ Publicly accessible locations Publicly accessible locations include a wide variety of everyday locations such as: Sports stadiums, festivals and music venues, hotels, public houses, clubs, bars, casinos, high streets, retail stores, shopping centres, markets, schools, universities, medical centres, hospitals, places of worship, government offices, job centres, transport hubs, parks, beaches, public squares, other open spaces. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does demonstrate the diverse nature of publicly accessible locations. To manage these challenges, some organisations are relying on guarding and manual solutions or processes Organisations responsible for publicly accessible locations have many challenges they need to overcome while at the same time ensuring that safety and security is visible, yet non-intrusive. To manage these challenges, some organisations are relying on guarding and manual solutions or processes, whereas other organisations have invested heavily in diverse security technologies: CCTV, access control, intruder alarms, fire detection, intercoms and more. Managing public safety Effectively managing public safety and security is difficult and can be costly. Potential liabilities are something to seriously consider, based on forthcoming regulation and prevailing public expectations. When a critical event unfolds public reactions can be difficult to safely manage, however this is now a must do. Public space operators need to get the right information to the right people at the right time to protect all people, including every single member of the public. Their work with public and private sector clients around the world has enabled them to understand ‘protecting the public’ challenges and offer solutions that meet the specific requirements. Public space operators and organisations must keep track of all emerging threats and assess the potential impacts of when, not if, they will experience a critical event. Unpredictable threat environment Security executives have the challenge of protecting people, facilities and assets With an increasingly complex and unpredictable threat environment, it has never been more imperative to act faster. With more complete intelligence, organisations can increase their speed and decisiveness to assess risks and prevent those risks from harming people or disrupting operations. Leisure and entertainment is a prominent UK industry, that is also one of the most vulnerable to safety and security threats. Security executives have the challenge of protecting people, facilities and assets, while also maintaining friendly and welcoming services to visitors. Public venues and retailers must provide non-intrusive client safety and security. For the would-be criminal, safety and security provision should be a visible deterrent. Balancing these needs is where Everbridge can help organisations. Everbridge provides the critical event management platform to help organisations manage the full lifecycle of a crisis. Facilitating device activation Their platform correlates events from disparate safety and security systems into a common operating picture to focus people’s attention on what really matters. The platform provides users with actionable alerts, next step actions, and automated reporting to better manage risks, ensure compliance with operating procedures and support the business continuity. Automated workflows ensure rapid, consistent responses, reducing the risk of human error Automated workflows ensure rapid, consistent responses, reducing the risk of human error. It also facilitates device activation to ensure they are always in operational control and protecting the people. Dynamic reports and dashboards provide real-time actionable insights for the operations teams and senior executives. Benefits include: Real-time situational awareness. Reduces risk. Accelerates response times. Avoids technology lock-ins. Prevents information overload. Keeps stakeholders informed. With Everbridge, the organisation can deliver the public protect duty. Now and in the future.