Building the Control Room of Tomorrow
At the center of an enterprise organization’s security operation stands its nucleus, arguably one of the most important pieces for overall functionality and efficiency: a command center or security operations center (SOC). A place where a variety of systems and solutions come together, the command center exists to provide a common operational picture, mitigate threats, and promote enhanced communication during an incident.
The goal of any command center is to monitor, assess, and respond to a variety of threats and incidents. As technologies advance and trends develop, so too do the strategies in place to meet this goal. There are several considerations that must be made when designing the control room of the future.
Space. For many companies, a control room may be allotted space in a basement or small windowless room chosen as an afterthought. While some companies are limited by space, many decide the SOC’s location is unimportant. This can be a big mistake when designing a control room that will serve the company now and into the future. It’s critical for this space to be large enough to house important equipment that allows operators to view the relevant incoming data and make informed decisions, but it’s also necessary for the space to be scalable as needs change, technology evolves and coverage increases, and a company grows.
Operator comfort. Space isn’t the only consideration when designing an SOC or control room. Central to the success of any organization is the ability for security operators to quickly and efficiently take information coming into an SOC and act on that information to identify risks and mitigate threats. Operator comfort, as a result, should be central to the design of a control room, taking lighting, console comfort, ergonomics, ambient noise, and temperature into careful consideration. If operators are uncomfortable or distracted, in pain with a sore neck due to bad viewing angles, or too warm in a room without proper ventilation, they can miss out on critical events or emergencies. Addressing these before they become problematic is crucial in the design stage of an SOC.
Technology. When it comes to building a mission-critical SOC, there's a reason why large-scale video walls that showcase a number of incoming data points are dominant. Uniform and integrated visual elements are imperative to the success of an SOC or control room, because operators and first responders require the most up-to-date and complete information regarding incoming security-related events. Additionally, the technology needed to bring multiple data streams together in a single-pane-of-glass view is an important consideration to make, and hiring a control room integrator that specializes in this technology can streamline the process and result in better situational awareness across the board.
Data convergence. Command centers today combine a number of security components, but as end users demand an emphasis on the full umbrella of security rather than small silos, facilities are focused on including additional pieces, such as risk and threat assessment, employee travel, and social media monitoring. Data incorporation is also a critical element, and command centers must be able to collect any number of data points for effective data aggregation. Dashboards that can make sense of a large amount of information can streamline decision-making and response.
Innovation. While words like artificial intelligence and machine learning are often whispers around the industry, for innovative companies, these terms are becoming more commonplace as they enter a new frontier in how data is collected and analyzed to deliver information to security operators. The control room of the future brings innovative software and systems to the forefront, taking existing sensors that are providing a wealth of information and layering an additional method by which to understand what is happening and make decisions about the organization’s health.
Enterprise organizations rely on their SOC for business operations. In times of an emergency, and as risks become more severe, a complete situational picture is necessary. Taking into consideration the space, operator comfort, technology, data convergence, and future innovation can set security managers up for success in protecting their enterprises.
Dan Gundry is director of national control room sales at Vistacom.