Control Room Egornomics 101 : Visual Support (PIRs)

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PIR stands for Priority Information Requirements and it is a list of information gathering tasks listed in order of priority depending on the urgency, necessity and availability of resources required to support the execution of an operational decision. An effective support function of a CCTV control room is to deliver PIRs to all members of an organisation. PIRs is the key to facilitating visibility and support from an organization, particularly senior management.

The key issue is to determine the nature of the security support that the CCTV control room is to fulfil, and then support CCTV operators in fulfilling this function by ensuring that security is appropriately prioritised in their day to day working routines. In practice it is rarely the case that CCTV control rooms fulfil only a security function – in addition they may act as an information point for queries, or a gatherer of evidence or provide administrative duties to the organisation in which they are based. A CCTV operator, undertaking a variety of tasks that fall under each of these functions, will inevitably have to prioritise particular tasks over others when the control room gets busy. This is discussed further in the WATCH components.

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Control Room Ergonomics 101: F.A.S.T

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It should be remembered that the key goal of decision makers at times of crisis is to consider information rather than to derive it, so the control room, equipment and systems in place should be set up to facilitate this. FAST information can make the difference in critical situations. It needs to be registered and easily accessible – in other words it should be Frequent, Accurate, and Systematic and in a Timely manner. Fast information gathering is a CCTV surveillance operator’s core function.  Surveillance is the operation of learning trends, behavioural traits and activities that change in a given environment. Collecting information from CCTV surveillance and other resources is essential for building a detailed knowledge of persons, vehicles and areas under surveillance.

There are two types of information that a surveillance operator requires when executing surveillance:

• Basic Information Requirements and

• Priority Information Requirements – PIRs

In Basic Information Requirements, you determine what you need to know. It also enables you to answer your Priority Information Requirements (PIRs). PIRs are mostly driven by your Surveillance Supervisory Team (SST) who determines what they want to confirm, deny, or where to fill-in the gaps. This information helps the SST in determining a course of action and be able to make the key decisions during the execution. Some information derived from the execution of information gathering will be converted to PIRs:

Prioritize and then develop your PIRs

Once you have compiled your information requirements, determined your Surveillance Supervisory Team’s requirements first and rank in order information requirements from most critical to least critical. You can’t answer all of them due to time constraints and resources. These are the tasks that you just do not have the time or resources for. They should be put at the bottom of the list of priorities.

In crafting your information requirements, you want to address the following five “W’s”:

  • What is it you are looking for?
  • Where is it that you want to look?
  • When is it that you want to look?
  • Why is this information so valuable to achieving your Primary Goal?
  • Who is it that needs the information?

However, you can collect all the information you require, but if there is no plan to get it to the right people at the right time to make operational decisions – it is fairly useless.

Control Room Ergonomics 101 : S.C.O.P.E

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As in all things tied to information distribution, a scope statement defines at the beginning, the objective, purpose, function and limitations of its existence. Likewise, information about CCTV surveillance infrastructure, personnel, equipment, operations and captured images should meet specific requirements of a scope. The acronym S.C.O.P.E spells it out clearly and simply: It must be Segregated, Confidential, Organized, Prioritized and Executed. Each of these five elements form the foundation of CCTV surveillance. The fifth element is only effective if the functions and setup of the control room is designed to support security or investigations. 

In a nut shell, CCTV surveillance in security support is a planned operation of collecting information from recorded camera video feed inside a control room by consciously deploying options to mitigate various safety and security risk factors or undesirable outcomes with contingencies that deliberately and legally eliminate immediate and potential threat to business assets.

Operators of CCTV equipment are the key components in a CCTV Control room that should be set up, or redesigned, according to a CCTV operational requirements plan and the CCTV room staff, as end users, should participate in this process.

Even the selection of CCTV operators should also follow a formal process and be based on a sound analysis of the job expectations, equipment and systems. Job competencies and tasks should be derived from the function requirements of the control room.

That my friend is lesson 101 of CCTV control room ergonomics having the CCTV operator in mind.

 

“Remember the SCOPE”

Control Room Ergonomics 101

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Human Factors in any control room environment has been the focus of my research into trying to understand what makes the job of an operator relatively challenging and how to mitigate options for better job satisfaction.

CCTV surveillance is a relatively new concept of security support in Papua New Guinea. Bearing in mind that,  internet and social media, email and blogs have transformed business through  computers and mobile phones making online marketing and advertising to be competitive inside the international information arena in recent years of cyber activities which inevitably brought about the introduction of the Cyber Law by the government in 2016.

So as far as CCTV monitoring is concerned, we only have a handful of trained operators in the country who really understand and appreciate the function of CCTV surveillance from a control room and dedicated CCTV workstations.

In 2005 a fully functional CCTV control room with an arsenal of 126 analog cameras, digital video recording,  two workstations and the pioneering CCTV operators without any formal CCTV operator training embarked on the job of CCTV monitoring of high security assets in the mining operations situated in Enga Province. That job since has expanded to a little over 400 analog and digital cameras, recruiting and training of more operators and a state of the art CCTV control room in the country along with its own technical support team.

The expansion came with increased workload and stress on the operators whom I have had the privilege and opportunity of supervising and managing the day to day operations on a 21 days FIFO roster. Remuneration is an issue but the last eight months have been the reason for understanding and implementation of standards, training and health requirements in improved work performance of the operators and increased job satisfaction.

Stay with me because I am going to post more articles about the ergonomics of a CCTV control room and functions with some CCTV surveillance training that I developed throughout the pursuit of improving job satisfaction as opposed to financial appraisal.

“Remember the SCOPE.”