Dec 08, 2020

How to view legacy and new control room systems on one operator workspace

Control Room 2 min read

Control rooms are increasingly digitizing their workflows and adopting networked technologies to manage their operations. However, legacy systems cannot always simply be removed from the workflow. So, how can legacy and new systems be integrated effectively?

Today’s operators are being asked to manage an increased number of sources and applications, very often from a control room workspace that is cluttered with monitors, workstations, and input devices. Needless to say that the transition to a new, more ergonomic workspace is welcomed by operators with open arms.

However, a workspace modernization project does not necessarily mean that organizations can restart from a blank sheet. In many control rooms, legacy applications cannot just be thrown out or ignored. Many SCADA systems or industrial process applications have a longer expected lifetime than the control room visualization and management systems, so the legacy applications need to be combined with or rather integrated into the new environment.

Networked visualization

In an effort to make a digital transformation, control rooms are transforming more and more into fully networked environments. By making use of the LAN or WAN, visual information can be sent to operators and other users wherever they are connected. By using standard networks instead of traditional AV equipment, control rooms are much more flexible in how they want to distribute their content, and they can scale almost without limits.

legacy control room

However, many legacy systems are not running on standard networks. Instead, they often run on an isolated network, completely separated from non-critical applications and for reasons of security, they typically have limited network connectivity.

The challenge for control room integrators is to provide an intuitive way for operators to view and interact with their multitude of sources in the same workspace, whether these sources are coming from legacy AV applications or IP-based systems. To work efficiently and make well-informed decisions, operators need to be able to see both types of content on the same screen.

Legacy and IP-based systems side by side

Barco OpSpace solves this by connecting legacy sources or applications to hardware encoders that distribute video, images or input securely into the IP network. This way, legacy sources can be easily combined with newer IP-based sources in the same operator workspace. In fact, Barco’s encoders are adding a visual layer, so that operators do not need to interact with the data itself, but only with the representation layer on top of it, making it easier for them to combine different data types.

The hardware encoder has the additional benefit that it separates the operator from the secured application network. With the hardware encoders, operators are physically separated from the back-end systems that host the content.

Adding new sources is also straightforward, because this can be done over a standard network, simply by adding an encoder. This way, control rooms can connect with practically any source type and display it in whatever way is most suitable for the task.

Still need to run critical legacy systems in your control room? Don’t let this stand in the way of your digital transformation plans. Talk to a Barco representative to see how Barco OpSpace can help you prepare for your control room’s digital transformation.

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