The Command Center of the Future

The Command Center of the Future

Variety of systems and solutions exist for operational picture

At the center of any government organization’s security operation stands its nucleus, arguably one of the most important pieces for overall functionality and efficiency: a command center or Security Operations Center (SOC). A place where a variety of systems and solutions come together, the command center exists to provide a common operational picture, mitigate threats and promote enhanced communication and response during an incident.

A number of factors make command centers in government facilities unique, including the need for connecting and synchronizing multiple networks, integrating with legacy systems, transitioning from digital to analog (in many cases), and providing real-world deployment solutions that must be usable without compromising OpSec.

Emerging technologies are driving local, state, and federal agencies to build SOCs that bring a variety of sensors together that address the aforementioned components and create a cohesive approach to security—for both employees and visitors. Looking ahead, we can expect to see the following elements shape the command center of the future in government organizations:

Convergence

Systems. Command centers today combine a number of security components, such as video, audio, access control, intrusion, and more. There is a growing trend present in bringing these various pieces together to create a Smart City environment for government agencies to better identify threats and protect residents. But as end users demand an emphasis on the full umbrella of security rather than small silos, we’re starting to see facilities include additional pieces, such as risk and threat assessment, social media monitoring, IoT security, and cyber terrorism within each of these agencies.

Data incorporation. Almost all of today’s devices on the network are driving big data; the amount of information available to command centers will only continue to increase, and as analytics improve, effective data aggregation must follow. Cities and municipalities generate a ton of data on a daily basis, which means processes need to be in place to analyze and act on this information in real-time. The command center of the future will include dashboards that aggregate this data so that stakeholders can make sense of a large amount of information and put it in a digestible format to drive streamlined decision-making.

Network. The wall between cyber and physical security has begun to come down, as stakeholders realize the need for collaboration to protect the entire enterprise. Visualization platforms in command centers, such as overview video walls, will take advantage of the growing and valuable network architecture, resulting in less hardware, more redundancy, and more reliability.

No longer are the days when all decision makers are in the same area as the command center. They are spread out across buildings, campuses, or even greater distances. Communications must include the ability to send a shared perspective of real-time content about a situation from within the four walls of the command center and beyond to first responders and stakeholders—no matter where they may be—to make informed decisions and implement responses. In government environments, this also means the potential of sharing critical information with other agencies. With such an abundance of information, including mobile surveillance applications, crowdsourcing platforms and social media, all of which provide additional intelligence and can be used to streamline investigations, one user interface in a command center can make all the difference between a successful or failed response.

Artificial Intelligence

Today’s security threats to metropolitan areas require a predictive and preventative stance, and emerging technologies such as analytics and machine learning allow security operators to stay ahead of the game. Artificial intelligence (AI) enables the ability to learn behaviors, making the detection and communication of anomalies easier and responsiveness more comprehensive.

For example, as a video camera watches a street corner day in and day out, machine learning software can aid the computer in learning patterns for passersby. As the machine learns what “normal” behavior is, it also learns to detect anomalies in the environment, such as a backpack or loitering individual. This information can be relayed back to an operator in a command center to alert officials and activate the appropriate response protocols. Tools that automate situational awareness and integrate platforms can provide operators with more timely and accurate information upon which they can base their decisions.

In a command center environment, this means that operators can easily identify critical breaches within a facility, following standard operating procedures to respond accordingly in line with the agency’s overall emergency management plan. AI and machine learning facilitate the conglomeration of enhanced data to streamline this response.

Government entities and agencies rely on their SOC for communicating with operators and first responders on a daily basis and in times of an emergency. As risks become more severe, a complete situational picture is necessary. Convergence and AI, among other emerging technology, will allow operators in government facility command centers to achieve this by promoting automation, awareness, and rapid responses for operators.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Security Today.

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