Budget the overriding factor in console design

July 2015 Entertainment and Hospitality (Industry)

While ergonomics and functionality play a role in the design of a control room console, the biggest deciding factor is the available budget. Leveraging previous experience on solutions that work successfully is a differentiator when selecting a company to design and build a suitable security console.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Jack McEwan and Penny Bond at long-established ProGroup Manufacturing about designing suitable security consoles. The company’s scope of expertise ranges from standard single person CCTV desks through to fitting out fully contained control and surveillance operations, complete with video walls, multi-level surveillance rooms, and central command centres.

McEwan says that typically a client will provide the company with a brief that details the function of the console, whether there will be a supervisor present, how many operators will be using the console and whether the console will be manned around the clock. In addition, information on the type of equipment required, such as radios, PCs and telephones will be supplied. The more information that is supplied and the more comprehensive and detailed this information is, the better the end result.

Bond says that the console is designed to suit the specific room in which it is located, both from a functional and aesthetic perspective. Using the building drawings, a detailed design that considers accessibility and ceiling height, will be produced. A reputable and knowledgeable console designer will be able to incorporate factors such as ergonomics and lighting into the design. Additionally, they will select the construction materials best suited to the environment, typically those which are durable and robust, especially in environments where monitoring takes place on a 24-hour basis.

McEwan says that ambient noise can play a large role in the design of the console, citing the placement of glazing between individual operators as a noise-suppression measure. Other factors under consideration include the ideal distance required between the operator and the screen to reduce fatigue and eye strain. Soft ambient lighting is generally preferred for the same reasons.

While most facilities would like to provide each of their operators with an expensive ergonomically designed chair, the budget often dictates that a less expensive and usually less comfortable version is acquired. As the bare minimum, operators should have access to a comfortable desk and chair, combined with a monitor. Modular packages are available and ProGroup is able to flat box and ship units to cross border companies.

On the discussion between video walls versus consoles, Bond says that in the latter scenario the operator works in his own space or workstation where he has interaction with both other operators and the team of security/reaction officers at the workface as well as, in some instances, with the SAPS. A video wall, on the other hand, is rarely interactive and provides only a visual feed.

McEwan says that in lock-down situations or war room scenarios, where operational staff are locked into a control room environment for their entire shift due to security sensitivity, the incorporation of a recreation or breakout area is common. Here one would typically find kitchen and dining facilities, bathrooms, TVs and books, a sitting area and possibly a sleeping area.

In the entertainment environment, there are usually a multitude of cameras that must be monitored. In many instances, casinos employ operators who are trained in reading body language. The design of a console in this environment, says Bond, varies from circular to flat wall.

In the ideal world, budget would not be an issue and operators would work in an operations environment where only top of the range equipment is used. However, the reality is that there will always be a compromise between operator comfort and available funds and companies therefore need to focus on the most important elements and downplay the less important ones.

For more information contact Progroup Manufacturing, +27 (0)11 493 1545, [email protected], www.progroup.co.za

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