- Control center solutions
Control Center Solution is a generic term for different flavors of technical arrangement within command & control facilities. They represent more or less integrated installations that are used to manage resources in order to achieve results in complex environments. Common to all Control Center Solutions are underlying principles of control.
Control Center follow a Purpose which - very generic - is to control and/or to apply control principles in order to affect a Target in a desired way. The purpose as such is outside the Control Center entity and defines its mission. Typically, the most advanced control centers operate in safety critical environments with complex missions:
- Air Traffic Control Centers (ATCC)
- Search and Rescue Centers (SAR)
- Space Mission Control Centers
- Harbor Control Centers,
- Police Dispatch and Control Centers,
- Fire fighter Dispatch and Control Centers.
Today Control Centers represent large facilities, impressive buildings with equally impressive infrastructure and potentially hundreds of controllers working.
Dispatched Control Center
Control Centers are not necessarily fixed to a distinct location, although they typically are. In recent years remote missions with dispatched resources become more frequent in particular in Defense (Peacekeeping Missions) and Crisis Management. The "center" becomes a mobile unit.
Even more progressively, Control Centers may not need a distinct space at all. Based on communications infrastructure with high availability figures controllers/commanders may operate on the spot with mobile devices retrieving all required information from the network (network centrics).
Control is generally based on a control loop that consists of
- Sensors - generate data which represent (part of) the current environment (incl. human beings: e.g. observation reports)
- Actuators - affect the environment (incl. human beings: e.g. firefighter is an actuator)
- Controllers - forms a picture of the current situation, compares it with the intended situation and either decides on the adaptation of the intended situation (changing the plan) or formulates and decides on an action affecting the environment. This decision making process may include human operators, but not necessarily.
- Communications - all functional elements of the Control Loop require adequate connectivity amongst each other
These entities together form a feedback loop which allows to detect changes on the affected target as a response to actions aimed for affect the target. The efficiency and effectiveness of this feedback loop depends on the quality of information generated and processed and the processing delays.
Control/Decision Making can be differentiated in
- Current Situation - representation of Target parameters relevant for fulfilling the purpose
- Desired/Intended Situation - representation of Target parameters relevant for fulfilling the purpose
- Decision Support (Deviation Analysis, Suggestions) and Decision Making
- Command & Control - elements that provide access to the Actuators (voice communication,..)
- Documentation & Analysis - generates database that feeds back into Decision Support (learning factor)
Sensors produce data which is transformed into information when presented as part of the surveillance picture. The closer the process gets to the decision making phase the more a transformation into knowledge can be observed. Completing the loop the characteristic of the content develops back into information and finally data which is operated by the actuator.
Control Center Solution
A Control Center Solution is a distinct compilation and integration of specialized services and components (equipment) which - each for itself or by mutual interaction - form part of a control loop required to follow the purpose.
Using a fire fighter mission as an example the whole control loop would operate as follows: The purpose is to remove the fire. Front line fire fighter observe the scene and act as sensors by reporting back to the mission command. With these reports and other sources of data a picture of the current situation is generated which deviates from the intended situation which may be "no fire". Considering the characteristics of the surveillance information and the quality of the deviation between now and should be mission command may decide to change the plan or order for an attack led by fire fighter. The target is the fire. .
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