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Why you should start planning for the future right now

Updated: Jun 27

As we reach the midpoint of 2024, it's the perfect time for 911 directors and supervisors to start planning their budget for the upcoming year. Upgrading your control room in 2025 can help address common issues faced by 911 centers, such as outdated consoles, ergonomic problems, and inefficient layouts. Thes issues lead to missed opportunities, and increase frustration among the staff. However, it can be difficult to identify every problem and issue that needs fixing, without going completely over budget. This is why we recommend you start planning for 2025 right now. That way, you can get valuable feedback from key stakeholders in your organization, and most importantly, you won’t be missing out on the ergonomic features that will have a positive impact on your center. At Sustema, we're here to guide you through the process, offering expert assistance with designs, budgeting, and every detail needed to evaluate what's working and what's not in your control room. In this article we will discuss the reasons why you should upgrade your center, and what are the common issues control rooms are facing.

Common reasons to upgrade a control center

We get it. The decision to upgrade your control center isn't just about staying up to date with the latest trends in control console design; it's about making your workspace work better for you, your team, and your mission. That means that as you plan your budget for the next year, every element needs to add up to the proper allocation of resources available to your organization, including financial, human, and material resources. Here are some reasons why 911 centers, utilities, and other mission-critical environments should be upgraded:

  1. Organize and Enhance Ergonomics: Is your workspace feeling cramped and chaotic with an endless pile of notes, and pens, and those 2 already empty cups of coffee just sitting on your station because you simply don’t have enough space? An upgrade can declutter your worksurface area, optimize your room layout, and make everything more ergonomic for the user. After all, a clutter-free, comfortable workspace can significantly improve the daily experience and reduce operator burnout.

  2. Modernization Matters: Perhaps your current installations and furniture have seen better days. Maybe the furniture is not suitable for the current needs of your team. Or, it might just be that the consoles aren’t flexible enough for the changes you are looking to implement. This is when a makeover allows you to remodel and modernize your setup with durable, high-tech furniture that not only looks great but also performs exceptionally well.

  3. NG911 Integration: Keeping up with the latest technology is crucial for any control room. By modernizing your center, you can fully integrate NG911 hardware, implement better cable management solutions, ensure easy access to IT equipment, and keep your critical systems secure, reducing downtime and enhancing your center's reliability.

  4. Atmosphere and Morale: Your workspace design and room layout directly impact your team's morale and efficiency. Tangible factors like electrical wiring, ventilation, and data sources are obviously important when planning your control room layout. On the other hand, intangible elements such as noise, lighting, colors in the room, the grouping of people, and the overall feel and atmosphere of the room are often overlooked during this process. An improved room atmosphere and working environment can work wonders to boost morale, streamline operations, and create a more pleasant and productive workplace that attracts and retains new talent.

So, whether it's about decluttering, modernizing, staying technologically advanced, or simply creating a better work atmosphere, upgrading your control center is about making it work better for you and your team.

Elements that are hurting your control center right now:

An aging control room plagued by several issues hampers operations and staff well-being, making a renovation of the center essential. Below we discuss how each issue adds up to the detriment of a control room and its impacts on the operators who work there.

  • Difficulty in Hiring: Between 2019 and 2022, one in four jobs at public safety communications centers were vacant, according to a recent report from the National Association of State 911 Administrators and the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. Finding and retaining skilled staff can be made easier when the center itself looks and feels like a place that has a clear direction, good leadership, and resources to support its employees in what is already a stressful job.

  • Suboptimal Working Conditions: When new employees find themselves in a workplace that is constantly ramping up stress levels with poor design choices, bad ventilation which causes poor air quality, deficient heating which impedes concentration, and insufficient lighting that causes physical discomfort, new recruits will not think twice to find greener pastures elsewhere.

  • Ergonomic problems in the design of the furniture: Consoles that do not adapt to the operator’s needs and requirements are a detriment to the productivity of the organization as a whole. A console that is used by different people throughout the day will require the staff to adapt to it, instead of the other way around. Different people of different heights will have to adopt uncomfortable postures that will result in fatigue and injuries. Consoles without height-adjustable worksurfaces, adaptable lighting, personal environmental systems, flexible monitor arrays, and even rounded edges on the worksurface, all can contribute to work-related injuries.

  • Outdated Consoles: Old consoles may no longer meet the needs of your operators, or perhaps they never did. This will impact their performance and can lead to burnout, which fuels the staffing crisis many organizations in mission-critical environments are facing nowadays.

  • Cleanliness Concerns: Dirty consoles create a working environment that lowers morale. If it is not easy to clean the furniture without disturbing the operators, it can lead to a continuous decline in the overall hygiene of the control room, exacerbating the existing challenges and affecting staff productivity.

  • Cable Management Woes: Poor cable management can result in prolonged downtime. Older consoles that were designed to look pretty, instead of being functional increase the overall time and effort that it takes to make minor adjustments and daily maintenance of critical IT equipment at the consoles. After all, the information passing through those cables is critical data, like a bus's location, an airplane’s status, the current pressure on the electrical grid of your city, or someone’s 911 call.

  • Noise Disturbances: Noise is one of those intangible factors that are often overlooked during the design process. But in a workplace that is famous for always having something going on, the lack of acoustic panels can make your workspace noisier than it already is and hinder the operator’s concentration. Excessive noise levels will contribute to the stress of the job, which will also contribute to the burnout cycle.

  • Inflexible Layout: A non-reconfigurable control center layout may not adapt to your organization's evolving needs. For example, during the process of PSAP consolidation (a process that is already complicated on its own), accommodating more people and more equipment can pose difficulties. However, rigidity can hinder the seamless integration of new resources, disrupt operational efficiency, and impede the successful execution of PSAP consolidation efforts.

  • Storage and Accessibility Problems: Insufficient storage and inconvenient device placement can lead to the staff being uncomfortable, as well as create a chaotic and cluttered workspace. When operators lack separate spaces for their personal effects and their professional tools, these will often become mixed, making it challenging to locate necessary items quickly, leading to frustration and delays in completing tasks, ultimately affecting the overall productivity and morale of the center. Therefore, addressing storage and accessibility issues is crucial for creating a well-organized, safe, and efficient control room.

At Sustema, we offer comprehensive solutions for upgrading your control room. Our services encompass technical drawings, in-depth needs analysis, budget planning, and more. We specialize in designing and manufacturing specialized furniture tailored to your specific needs, addressing the very issues that are holding your control center back. We're here to help you create a control room that not only overcomes these challenges but also enhances your team's efficiency, comfort, and morale.


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