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EXCLUSIVE: Jordan Heldrich, Global Segment Marketing Manager, Barco on How Control Rooms Improve Operational Capabilities

In just over a year, the COVID-19 crisis has dramatically changed the way organisations in all sectors and regions do business and has fast-tracked tech adoption by years.

Beyond a doubt, to stay competitive in this new business and economic environment requires new strategies and practices. Utilising disruptive technologies to stay ahead of the curve is a foregone requirement. Not surprisingly, multiple studies show that government agencies and private sector industries have advanced the digitisation of their customer/citizen and supply-chain interactions, as well as their internal operations by three to four years.

With the accelerated change came the need for better surveillance and monitoring – in general, and on focused areas. Indeed, rapid digitalisation has changed the course of operations in terms of patrolling specific areas for any adverse incidents. In the past, keeping a check on a large area or community was tedious and challenging work for the government bodies of numerous countries. As technology advanced, the influence of digitalisation expanded exponentially. Various new technologies opened new avenues for the monitoring of these key areas.

Control rooms – View better, share faster, resolve quicker

The introduction of control rooms for crisis management is a great way to keep key target areas in check. Technologies like video walls, wireless presentation systems, video surveillance systems, network-based control systems and others help in surveying large chunks of areas seamlessly. Experts say that based on all these aspects, the control room solutions market will see significant growth across the forecast period of 2020-2030.

OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Jordan Heldrich, Global Segment Marketing Manager for Control Rooms at Barco to discuss how control rooms help organisations and industries both in their COVID-19 mitigation efforts as well as improving their overall business capabilities.

As a matter of perspective, a critical control room is a place where all information comes together to be analysed and interpreted, providing complete situational awareness. It is the central intelligence hub of the organisation and a vital location for operations.

Barco has over 20 years of experience in this market and offers a wide portfolio comprising overview video walls, professional-grade wall controllers, networked visualisation software, services and much more.

Jordan personally has robust experience in dealing with control rooms throughout her career. In her current role, Jordan is responsible for leading and growing Barco’s control room marketing department. She works with her team to lead the company’s commercial strategy and deliver great customer outcomes and sales growth. The global development of the control room business for Barco is also her focus.

Utilising control rooms amid the COVID-19 crisis

For Jordan, even before the pandemic, the focus on control rooms was already coming into play. COVID-19 just magnified and multiplied the need for it a thousand times more. Information became vital and urgent as safety and security were a priority.

However, with the rapid surge in information and digitalisation, control room adopters are struggling between information that is urgently needed and what is not. Multiple systems producing huge amounts of information create a major problem.

As a solution, organisations and industries have adjusted their internal operations to adapt and to fully utilise the control rooms in the new normal that are flooded with information. Jordan emphasised, “Control rooms played a big role in moving organizations from a reactive to a proactive role.”

In terms of dealing with the current pandemic, Jordan noted that governments across the globe had trouble reacting and knowing when to take immediate actions to a crisis of this magnitude. However, there is one thing prominent in the governments’ initiatives against COVID-19 – data. Having the information on hand makes it much easier for decision-makers to build plans.  When agencies get real-time information constantly coming in, they can pivot easier and faster.

Jordan cited an example in the rise of healthcare operations centres which is a change for a lot of healthcare organisations whether it is hospitals or clinic. With the crisis, suddenly, control rooms were not just trying to maintain different network operations centres or security, but their whole operations overall such as the number of doctors available, patients’ journey from check in to discharge, availability of beds, oxygen, medication etc.

People needed to know these details on a minute-by-minute basis – to see which hospitals were full and which had available capacity. It was a literal life and death scenario. Control rooms helped bring all that information together to assist healthcare facilities to make decisions as well as provide real-time information to the public throughout the pandemic. Jordan shared that Barco continues to display all that information and seamlessly creating situational awareness which keeps communities smart and safe amid the ongoing crisis.

If an organisation has different programmes or systems, they do not necessarily have to be spread out over different computers. Barco allows these operators or analysts to control them from one monitor, one mouse and keep them all isolated for security if necessary.

Swift and secure content sharing beyond the control room

One thing that they have done in terms of control rooms at an operator level is starting to take that concept out of the control room itself with SecureStream. Barco’s SecureStream media streaming solution makes sharing content and video from the control room to external stakeholders (and vice versa) easy and secure. In addition to Barco’s TransForm N and CMS control room and collaboration products, SecureStream uses a very intuitive user interface. It allows control room operators to drag and drop video or data sources into a channel that can be pushed to field staff or external experts.

With the overview of available sources, control room operators can simply drag and drop content into a SecureStream channel and then provide the needed website link to the receivers. The content can be video, data, or even a customized layout of content.  The remote end-user can use the web browser of his or her mobile device to view the shared content.

Jordan is excited, “Having information at different locations or not having access to all of your information can be very difficult, especially while trying to resolve a crisis. So, being able to share that real-time information using the Internet can be extremely helpful.”

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Jordan elaborated about Barco’s OpSpace, a single workspace consisting of several displays on the operator’s desk. It can be used for viewing, monitoring and interacting with multiple applications that reside on multiple networks with different security clearances or liability concerns. All relevant information can be accessed and manipulated within a single pixel space, with just one mouse and keyboard. In this way, the operator is at the centre of the information and has all information within easy reach.

OpSpace reduces the clutter and brings simplicity back to a user’s workflow, both on-screen and on the desk. Barco’s operator workspace solution integrates all applications into a single integrated workspace. With just one click, the user can call any application into view – reducing navigation time and greatly improving the overview of any situation. When transitioning from an old to a new application environment, OpSpace even allows the user to have both systems on the same screen, providing them the opportunity to get used to a new routine.

OpSpace is agnostic to source and network types and uses standard networking protocols. This makes adding new applications to workflows painless. Jordan said that OpSpace provides clean modernisation projects, allowing its users to easily add new and legacy systems to their workspace environment.

Barco works with organisations to make sure that all the key decision-makers have access to information that the control room provides whether it is 24/7 or just for certain projects. Depending on the organisation’s preferences and if they are willing to go that outside step to start bringing in information directly to their cell phones.

Designed with security at the heart

In terms of security, Jordan confirmed that they have put in a lot of time and effort towards securing the information gathered. She acknowledged that with the surge in digitalisation comes the associated rise in cyber threats and attacks. The world is seeing this more and Barco takes this very seriously. Barco strives to put in multi-level securities as much as possible. Jordan said, “it is a constant thing, security for us is not a one-time affair especially as new certifications and requirements emerge.”

Barco also strives to meet many necessary regulations and requirements across the world. They are consistently being tested by third-party cybersecurity entities for different vulnerabilities to make sure they a system that is up to date when it comes to security.

In closing, Jordan acknowledged that for government agencies and companies to continue to grow in the new normal, access to all the information through complete situational awareness must be in the picture and must be prioritised. She is positive that this is where the future is. Jordan concluded that with the changes brought by the pandemic, innovations that increased mobility unprecedently, situational awareness must be made accessible. More specifically via our smartphones for us to not just only churn out critical information, but also to receive the information more efficiently and effectively.

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