In September 2021, the region of Brussels opened its new Mobility Center. Today, the center combines the management of city traffic and public transportation in Belgium’s capital city, all in one place. Efficiency, collaboration and improved coordination were the main principles of this project. The new center is home to services of the local public transport operator STIB/MIVB and Brussels Mobility, which controls road and tunnel traffic in the city. Both services monitor events, road works, traffic and other incidents, and infrastructure defects on a 24/7 basis in order to ensure smooth mobility in the capital.
Control room visualization and collaboration
Brussels Mobility called upon multitechnical services company EQUANS to equip the Brussels Mobility Center control room with high-performance visualization and collaboration technology to support the organization for years to come. Brussels Mobility and EQUANS went through a thorough market scan and ultimately selected Barco as the preferred partner to provide video wall and operator workspace visualization technology.
The mobility center has multiple spaces for control room staff and supervisors, and Barco is present in all of them. In the main control room, EQUANS and Brussels Mobility chose a Barco UniSee LCD video wall in a six by two matrix. But the solutions operators rely most on are the eight Barco OpSpace operator workstations. From there, operators can monitor and control their wide variety of sources and applications on a primary and two secondary screens.
Reducing screen clutter
“We experimented with different workspace set-ups,” says Sébastien Gilson, project manager at EQUANS. “We tried to position five operator screens side by side and a sixth one on top in a second row. However, this obstructed the view to the video wall, which we could not position higher up due to space constraints of the historical building the mobility center is located in. By introducing Barco OpSpace, we could reduce the number of operator screens to three, because of the solution’s inherent possibility to bring all sources in front of the operator, and to control them with only one keyboard and mouse.”
But space constraints are not the only reason why Barco OpSpace was the ideal operator solution. Even more so, the high number of sources and applications the Brussels Mobility team needs to monitor – camera feeds, maps, incident detection and other traffic control systems – would have made it impractical to add more screens. Instead, OpSpace allows operators to present all their sources on one pixel space and interact with the content on the screen in front of them.
Access to sources can be managed via layout presets and is based on user roles, ensuring that operators only see the applications that are relevant to their job. The organization is also confident that adding sources or applications to the workflow will not increase screen clutter. Instead, sources can easily be added to the existing workspace and controlled by the same keyboard and mouse.
“More than the video wall, we hugely depend on Barco’s OpSpace to monitor the city traffic on a 24/7 basis,” says Moaad Yacoubi, Technical Project Manager at Brussels Mobility. “Being able to manage our large number of sources with great fluidity and without system latency has made all the difference.”
From an ergonomics perspective, OpSpace has made a huge difference for the Brussels Mobility team. Operators no longer need to navigate between monitors and information windows, or constantly look from left to right, or from awkward angles to consult alarms or applications. The information they need can be easily positioned on the screen in front of them, offering a much more comfortable working position during their long shifts.
Similar video wall and OpSpace set-ups are available in other spaces of the mobility center. A crisis room that can be used in case of incidents or concerted traffic actions, has another Barco UniSee video wall, in a two by two matrix, and an additional OpSpace workstation. The same configuration can be found in the training room, where operators are prepared for new applications or proofs of concept. All sources can be easily viewed and exchanged among the different rooms through Barco’s networked visualization solution. The mobility center even has a backup control room on another location in the city where all sources and applications can be distributed to and controlled on another five OpSpace workstations.
In 2022, Brussels Mobility is also deploying several mobile command vehicles for use during roadside checks. These vehicles also have a Barco OpSpace workstation, to enable operators to access secure networks through 4G connections and interact with a large number of systems and applications, including camera feeds, ANPR systems, traffic message signs, and Belgium’s ASTRID police radio communications network.