IoT & Collaboration: Enabling the Next-Gen Operation Center

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Today, more than ever, airports need comprehensive situational awareness. Next-generation operation centers combining security, operations management, and collaboration can provide the insights and incident preparedness needed to both streamline everyday operations and manage emergencies.

By combining the comprehensive security integration of physical security information systems with the increasing number of data flows available from operations, maintenance, customer service, and even public Internet sources, an airport can generate a common operating picture, extending the benefits of situational awareness to all aspects of operation. Additionally, policies and procedures can be integrated into the system to provide a structured response to incidents and emergencies. Integrating the collaborative capabilities of a modern unified communications system completes the process -- from actionable intelligence and standard procedures, through to a proactive response involving appropriate personnel from disparate departments or teams.

While security threats tend to capture our attention most, airports must also contend with weather events, large crowds, schedule changes, and a constant pressure to increase efficiencies and drive revenue while eliminating costly downtime. Incidents that contribute to longer lines and a degraded customer experience also reduce the time those same customers are exposed to retail options. Maintenance issues, schedule changes, suspicious activities, and customer service incidents can have effects beyond the parties immediately involved and engaged in the event.

But today, data is increasingly available from every corner of an organization. The rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) is providing an opportunity to harness even more data. Every system is becoming a smart system. And this abundance of data is giving rise to useful analytics. Examples include:

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Other systems can be utilized to enhance response capabilities, such as:

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Traditional PSIM systems bring together the various modern security data streams. This has been a step in the right direction, but the data sources extend beyond the realm of security, and so do the advantages of a common/full operating picture. When all data streams are correlated and presented in a unified manner, the development and implementation of standard procedures and responses is simplified. Operational information can be displayed geospatially on a map of the facilities, providing insights into the relationships between seemingly disconnected data points and aiding in proactive responses. This accelerated identification and response to potential issues has the potential to increase operational efficiency and margins, while improving emergency readiness.

For example, a power outage might require the coordination of maintenance personnel, rerouting of customer traffic, refocusing of security staff, a customer service response that helps to prevent confusion and avoidable complications, rerouting of baggage to a new area, and the display of updated information.

The next-generation operation center provides the capability to be proactive to potential incidents. Thresholds can trigger alerts and notifications, such as when video analytics software detects a person walking in a restricted area or an unusual flow of pedestrian traffic in a particular area and alerts personnel to take action. Automatic escalation of incidents might route the information to the associated departments while generating an alert to the personnel monitoring the dashboard and displaying associated information on the map. Prepared channels of communication might include group messaging, or other collaboration features of a unified messaging system. With established response guidelines, personnel can rapidly establish control of the situation. Staff and stakeholders can be automatically kept informed of developing conditions and kept in communication with each other across departments.

Additional capabilities exist to maximize the potential of the data. Data analytics can assist in generating insights that may not be immediately obvious, by correlating all the available data. Decision support engines suggest courses of action and expected outcomes. And these capabilities are growing each year.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to develop, the potential sources of operational data are expanding rapidly. The adoption of a next-generation, integrated operations center provides a focal point for the data, so that additional capability immediately provides more value than if it were siloed in separate systems. The result is the capability to be proactive and to address incidents rapidly, minimizing the effects to business operations.

Airports are large, complex environments with multiple stakeholders. Airport-wide situational awareness, collaborative response capabilities, and proactive incident management are the keys to providing a secure environment and minimizing costly downtime.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.