Watson Consoles Blog

Sep 27, 2019 High Performance Environment

Considerations when Designing a Control Center

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As the brain stem for emergency response, PSAPs are critical to smooth and safe operations. A PSAP must provide a stable and distraction-free environment to monitor, assess, and respond to a wide variety of operations and incidents. While issues like focus and response time are often top priorities when designing a PSAP, some equally important factors often are treated as afterthoughts. Here are some design tactics to consider to increase job quality, safety, and satisfaction for dispatchers and operators. 

Layout of PSAP video monitors

monitor stations at a dispatch center

Video monitor layout is a core component of every PSAP. As the size and quantity of equipment can vary greatly between individual needs, these factors should guide layout design and dispatch console choices. 

Improperly placed monitors, or monitors that are too small or too large, can lead to improper ergonomics, eye strain, and inefficiency. Workspaces should provide plenty of space for monitors and equipment, with monitors organized to offer easily viewable information, without wasted space. Make sure to keep in mind line-of-sight when considering workstation and monitor layout, as not only is it important for operators to be able to see their own monitors, but it may be important for them to have line-of-sight to their team members, supervisors, or even larger shared displays. 

Data storage and transfer

Data storage and transfer

As technology advances and devices and applications continue to rely on big data, the need for larger and faster processing systems in PSAP increases. Recently, the US government allocated $103 million for dispatch center technology updates, a giant step forward in helping our 911 dispatchers do their jobs more effectively. 

Over the past decade, the development of cloud-based storage systems has helped answer the need for quick and easy storage expansion. However, this efficient advancement brings a greater threat to security (like the possibility of cyberattacks) making control room security a critical step. Dispatch control centers must think about where and how to store critical data as technology improves in order to maintain a safe and effective environment. 

Mercury cable management

Just as important as data storage is data transfer. With so much information moving through any control room, it is critical to have unobtrusive, easily accessible cable management for data and power. One of the most commonly made mistakes is hiding cables too well, making them unobtrusive but also inaccessible. Accessibility is critical in cases of failure and routine maintenance or upgrades. Failing to keep cables both secure and accessible can mean hours of downtime when something goes wrong. 

Consider using unobtrusive cable tracks on the ground to keep cabling easily reached without sacrificing safety. It is also important to use consoles that are cable-ready from manufacturers that are concerned about cable management. 

Control room lighting

Lighting is a critical element in a dispatch environment, having a huge impact on operator comfort and focus. Everyone’s needs are different and may vary depending on task, time of day, or personal preference. For this reason, individual controls are a great way to make sure everyone in your dispatch center has the lighting they need. 

Individualized lighting can come in many shapes and sizes. If you are designing a new PSAP, or ordering new furniture for an existing one, consider buying consoles with built-in personal lighting.   

Control room temperature

thermostat  in a control room

Temperature regulation is a simple way to provide dispatchers with greater comfort during long, stressful hours. Lighting and equipment radiate large amounts of heat which are more noticeable in a control room due to large-scale technology. 

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends to maintain workplace temperatures in the range of 68-76 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity in the range of 20 to 60%. It is important to maintain comfortable temperatures in the entire control room, while providing each operator with workstation-based heating and or cooling devices to fine-tune their space to their individual needs. 

Dispatcher ergonomics

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With high levels of stress and limited movement or breaks, an operator-centric design (very commonly known as ‘ergonomic’ design) allows for dispatchers to perform at their highest level. A user-centric desk design is so important to us here at Watson Consoles, that it is part of our core philosophy as furniture manufacturers, too!

Click here to learn more about nailing ergonomics

You take care of others. Let us take care of you.

Watson Consoles is dedicated to focus and comfort, reduced stress, and the general health and wellbeing of the entire 911 dispatcher industry. Our ergonomic features of our made in the USA furniture line are tech-ready and engineered to seamlessly integrate the newest hardware and technology solutions. Check out our product lines today and let us know what you think!