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TECHNOLOGY Traffic control rooms

A decade of difference I

Paul Brooks describes how the design of traffic control rooms has changed over the last 10 years, along with the technologies used within them

n 2009 the international standard (ISO 11064) for the design of con- trol rooms was released and since

then a number of parts have been issued providing guidelines for the design and ergonomics of a control room. Within this standard, factors such as displays and their human interaction, control room layout and dimensions and more, form the basis of a compliant control design. Electrosonic has recently provided

both ergonomic and technical exper- tise for a new major city traffic control centre due to be opened in June. All of the above elements were taken into account, and due to the company’s expe- rience and having installed similar com- plex systems Electrosonic was asked to be the audio-visual consultant on the project. Previously the firm designed and installed the control room equipment for the Highways Agency A3 Hindhead tunnel project in the UK, having success- fully provided solutions for five of the Regional Control Centres (RCC). The majority of change has been in the

hardware and software technology con- trol rooms utilise. This is a large topic so the following are just some of the changes that have been seen. Consoles used by operators are

designed to the latest FIRA specifica- tions. Mechanical and electrical height adjustment is common, giving opera- tors the ability to work sitting or stand- ing. Monitors are now flat screens rather than the old large CRT. This and other changes have meant consoles aren’t as deep and provide more flexibility for the operator. Electrosonic has worked with numerous console manufacturers and finds having this experience enables them to tune the clients requirement to an appropriate manufacturer ensuring


compliance as well as the right solution for the technology.

CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT A cluttered desk should now be the thing of the past. Technologies now allow the number of keyboards to be reduced. Operators can now switch from one PC or server device to another and interact with a number of devices through one keyboard and mouse. This was an impor- tant aspect of the recent design consul- tancy project that Electrosonic provided, ensuring that the new control room was tidier, desktops less cluttered and devices for control were simple and easy to use. CRT screens would usually be found

in the original control rooms to form a canvas of images as a display wall. A decade ago some of the larger control rooms saw the introduction of rear pro- jection screens. These were built up to form one large screen where windows could display various sizes of content including CCTV video sources and PC applications used for monitoring and managing the traffic network. Flat screen

technology has now become a dominant technology partly due to being more cost effective but also because of the improve- ments in quality and reliability needed in a 24-hour, 365-day environment. LCDs now have thinner bezels (3mm) and are higher resolutions. The latest 84” diago- nal screen offers 4K resolution (3840 pix- els × 2160), low power and heat output at a reasonable financial outlay. The display systems are sometimes

positioned for particular working groups rather than one large display wall. These displays, whilst smaller, provide specific information to operators involved with particular task, for example tunnel man- agement or primary route management. Images displayed can be controlled by the local operators but also shared with other functional groups either within the same control room or at other facilities. This may include emergency planning cen- tres or other agencies such as the police or fire service. Electrosonic proposed the very latest ultra-thin bezel LCD’s display wall for the city traffic control room each with a resolution of 1080p HD offering

Consoles used by operators are designed to the latest FIRA specifications Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World

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