Decentralised operations is where it’s at

CCTV Handbook 2021 Editor's Choice

The old ‘traditional’ control room or monitoring centre is a thing of the past. While many still rely on the simple processes of old to secure their premises, assets and people, the remote monitoring solutions of today offer enormous potential to do more and as customers look at ways to justify their security spend, getting more out of your security control room is more important than ever.

In addition to this, the pandemic continues to affect businesses as they are impacted by economic and political turmoil globally. This has a direct impact on their risk requirements and therefore also on security providers at all levels. The old control rooms of the past can’t handle this change in risk profile and have to adapt.

Although many outsiders would look at control rooms as a static environment, the market has gone through various changes in recent years. Control rooms are evolving into operations centres. Operations centres serve a variety of applications including, but not limited to, risk management, surveillance, process management, network monitoring, personnel management and asset management.

Looking beyond the horizon, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), SOCs (security operations centres) and NOCs (network operations centres) will broaden their focus beyond security to accommodate smart, interconnected technologies, such as sensors and analytics software, especially due to control rooms moving towards the inclusion of general risk management.


MJ Oosthuizen.

This means the software to run these control centres is increasingly sourced as a cloud-based service, enabling more effective collaborations between multiple network applications and allowing a control centre to be located in multiple locations (even the operator’s home in case of lockdowns). This shift makes it easier for NOCs and SOCs to undertake remote asset management and data monitoring. Securing these environments against cyber threats requires another set of expertise, but it is the combination of both ‘security universes’ that offers client flexibility and peace of mind.

Moreover, with the increasing spotlight on operator effectiveness, digital workspace solutions for control room operators must focus on reducing stress, while promoting ergonomic working and supporting healthy shift duty patterns, whilst utilising the enhanced tools to make prompt and better informed decisions ”

A decentralised future

Expanding on the decentralisation of control room operations, a factor not unique to this business in a world focused on digitisation, centralised business operations are becoming more decentralised. A typical structure would have been hierarchical, with a collection of local operational centres feeding into a cluster hub, which reports into a global control centre.

A new model is emerging with the innovation of software, facilitating improved collaboration and communication across multiple locations. This means that business-critical decisions can be made on a company-wide scale; a functional benefit suited to those operating out of multiple locations. This structural shift will continue as businesses recognise the benefits. For instance, decentralised operations can focus on localised asset management, resulting in faster data processing speeds.

Bringing automation into the overall picture, these automated processes are managed by escalation. They oversee and analyse data flows and alert operators if irregularities are identified by sounding an alarm. This reduces the need for continuous monitoring of data flows by personnel as the software is able to analyse vast amounts of data, identifying potential issues and recommending de-escalation protocols, which are then authorised by an operator.

To this end, it is important that the operator/officer on duty knows what to do when an alert is raised, both in terms of assessing the event and knowing what to do in different situations. An alert operator, having an in-depth understanding of the SOP (standard operating procedures) and the response to this type of alert is equally as important as the technology that created the event. A skilled and well-trained operator/officer simply cannot be replaced.

We focus on pro-active and informed responses and therefor offer services to our clients which are based on a detailed risk assessment per site, to ensure the risk is completely understood on all levels. These services are on offer to all clients, new and old and are used to complement the services and response to a situation.

A control room is not enough

While a control room can offer any number of solutions to its client base, customers today are no longer satisfied with their service providers simply raising an alarm or ‘watching over the premises’. A more holistic solution is required and clients want to know what service they are paying for pertaining to response, reaction and resolution. However, this requires more than a camera or two.

The effective use of technology in the provision or procurement of a service means the client needs to have the right technology properly installed and configured in the right places. Amazing technology on old TV programs like CSI made it look easy, but magic is restricted to Hollywood. Neither the operator nor the software can materialise a licence plate, for example, if the camera isn’t pointed at the right place and the image is not clear enough.

Accurate placement of your cameras on site is crucial to your security. If your response company can’t see an incident happening, they can’t manage or stop it. As with any security system, professional installation and maintenance is key as you already have professionals monitoring the system. Whether you choose video verification or monitoring, you want a seasoned security installation team to have your back and preferably, one that will be around for the foreseeable future.


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