1 sep. 2020

Integration at the glass for smoother control room system transitions


Control room modernization projects often force operators to move from one platform to another, with many headaches for its users as a result. By adding a visual layer to use both legacy and new platforms side by side – in other words, by integrating them ‘at the glass’ – Barco can make this transition much smoother.

Transitioning from one system to another is easier said than done. To make the comparison with our daily household digital experiences: if you are a Mac user, you will not use Windows programs and software, because both Mac and PC platforms do not match. And vice versa, of course. Computer users who have invested in one or the other platform will typically stick with it and with the programs that work for their platform, sometimes for many years on end.

The same is true for control rooms. Organizations will typically use sensors that generate a proprietary data type, in addition to proprietary systems that analyze that data. If a company has invested in a particular data platform, it is meant to use it for decades. Choosing a platform means you are in it for the long haul.

Changing control room platforms

Back to the household computer. Say you want to switch from PC to Mac. Aside from the excitement you may feel from having a new computer, you will probably have to invest in new software applications, depending on what you want to do: office software, graphics applications, email, etc.

A similar thing happens when control rooms need to switch from one data platform to another. Only the scale and complexity of the endeavor is different.

Evolving control room and sensor technologies may force control room operators to transition from one control system to another. Legacy systems may no longer be able to handle new standards and workflows. Control rooms are also adding more and more content from all kinds of devices – phones, CCTV cameras, smart sensors – to the common operational picture, making it difficult for legacy systems to keep up.

The human side of transitioning

Integrating a new platform and working with new control system interfaces is not just a technological challenge. It also means that control room operators need to be able to work in the new environment and with the new control system. Operators may have been used to work in a certain way for years and might find it difficult to adapt to a new workflow. They will need to make sense of a new way of retrieving, processing, and presenting information.

Getting used to a new control system requires time and operator training. Not to mention the operational responsibilities control rooms have when both operators and control systems do not perform to their full potential. That is why a transition from one to another control system should be a gradual and smooth one.

Integration at the glass

For many years, Barco has been helping control room professionals to distribute and visualize the available data at the right time and in the right format. With the possibility of presenting any source onto any control room display, be it on overview video walls or operator workstations, Barco is making it easier for organizations to work with and within different platforms.

Networked visualization solutions, like Barco’s Transform N CMS, add a visual layer on top of the control system, which is sometimes called an ‘integration at the glass’ approach. This means that control room operators do not interact with the data itself, but with the visual representation layer (user interface) on top of it, making it easier for them to work with different data types. Operators could even have the old and the new control system on their screens side by side, allowing them to train themselves and gradually transition from one platform to another.

Being able to take in any data type, Barco’s networked visualization solutions are not only data-agnostic, but also analytics-agnostic, allowing control room operators to work with any analytics or dashboard application.

Bottom line? Data integration at the presentation layer makes perfect sense from a human operator perspective and from a technology perspective, as control room users can continue to benefit from their existing legacy technology investments and slowly transition to the new platform.

Interested how Barco can help your control room to make a smooth control system transition? Then get in touch with us.