Modern life is mostly digital. Which means that almost everything we do runs on computers. For example, whenever we have an important meeting in downtown and we rely on public transport to get there, we assume that the train will be on time. Or, if we use a car, we drive on the assumption that the traffic lights will work and change color appropriately. Most people don’t think too much about these things. But others, like yourself, are not afraid to ask; “How does it all work?”, “Who monitors all the traffic lights on your way to work?”, “Who is in charge of coordinating the thousands of buses that move people around all day?”, “How can I know the exact position of the train and plan my day in advance by just checking my phone?”
Simple. Daily life, yours and mine, as well as every crisis and emergency; they are all run, monitored, analyzed and processed from a command center.
A command center is a 24/7 environment, filled with specialized furniture system like Sustema’s very own Focus series of control consoles. Now, going back to our public transit example, I want you to think about the city of Montreal, which “operates the most heavily used urban mass transit system in Canada, and one of the most heavily used rapid transit systems in North America.” In Montreal, public transport falls under the responsibility of the STM, Societe de transport de Montreal. However, the STM only handles transit within Montreal.
The commuter rail and bus services operating well outside Montreal’s city limits fall under the jurisdiction of Exo, although its official name is Réseau de transport métropolitain, or RTM.
Picture the command center operated by the RTM, which is an IT intensive environment, filled with control consoles like the Focus system, featuring a HPL (high pressure laminated) work surface that is durable enough to stay like-new for more than 15 years. However, durability and toughness are not everything. Traffic controllers work very long hours, so the Focus system also boasts an ergonomic design that meets modern criteria of esthetics and comfort, such as allowing for different shapes and dimensions that adapt to its users' needs and environments.
The RTM operates commuter train service as well as the bus service outside of the three main population centres of Greater Montreal, which means that they must coordinate with three different corporations in charge of their respective transit operations, the three of them being; STM in Montreal, the STL in Laval, and the RTL for the urban agglomeration of Longueuil. These 3 corporations run bus routes 24/7, so the RTM is constantly receiving information and making changes to their routes accordingly. Also, don’t forget that the Exo (RTM) commuter trains operate on tracks owned by either Canadian National or Canadian Pacific. Which use the tracks for merchandise transportation, and can often have their own delays and malfunctions, which in turn affect the RTM’s own operations.
To manage this workload, a traffic controller in an RTM command center requires up to 6 monitors to work efficiently.
For that, the Focus system features a slat wall structure which is a high resistance anodized aluminium panel that enables the monitors and accessories to be attached and integrated to the system. This in turn results in a clutter-free workspace that helps the traffic controller focus and increase their productivity.
Aside from providing a comfortable and ergonomic workspace, the Focus control consoles integrates an elegant solution for cable management inside its wall’s panels. Traffic controllers receive and process ludicrous amounts of data coming from their 6 commuter train lines and 59 stations, as well as their own 237 bus routes, 52 taxibus routes, and paratransit services, all of them running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Which means that data and power must travel through separate channels so as to not cause electromagnetic interference that could slow down or even compromise operations.
How a control console protects power and data
The Focus system can accommodate one or two power raceways, providing 12 or 24 electric outlets per section and a third and separate horizontal passage for data cable management. The critical information like the train’s or a bus's location travels through the dedicated cable rack and if needed, a technician can access and service the machine’s connection simply by removing a wall panel, without disrupting the traffic controller’s concentration. Alongside the data and electric cables, the computers running the RTM’s monitoring vital programs are also easily accessible and secured – in a computer storage compartment located beneath the console’s work surface. Unlike traditional office furniture, the Focus console features a swing out PC enclosure that is suspended from the floor, allowing the traffic controller to benefit from extra leg room, and when it’s time for cleaning, a broom, mop or even a vacuum cleaner can easily fit under the console without touching the PC or the data and energy cables.
For a command center like the one used by the RTM, versatility is a must.
Which is why the Focus system serves as an excellent entry level choice for equipping a transit command center for managing commuter train operations, keeping tabs on hundreds of bus routes and coordinating with local transit corporations, and ensuring customers are always timely informed of any delays and available alternatives. The Focus systems used by Exo are the daily workspace for more than 120 inspectors and security agents who supervise the various parking spaces, terminus stations, transit stations and the trains themselves that connect the greater Montreal area. A control console with a durable and modular nature ensures that no matter how many buses or trains the corporation decides to operate, their surveillance operations center can be adapted and customized to their traffic controller’s needs.
Are you looking for specialized furniture?
Sustema offers several solutions for mission critical environments like the RTM and other public transit command centers. Contact us to get a quote.
“Dans les coulisses du RTM : le Centre d’opérations et de surveillance.” Exo, Accessed 3 December, 2022. https://exo.quebec/fr/actualites/nouvelles-evenements/nouvelles/dans-les-coulisses-du-rtm-le-centre-d%E2%80%99operations-et-de-surveillance
“Trip planner.” Exo, Accessed 3 December, 2022. https://exo.quebec/en/trip-planner/train
“The Réseau de transport métropolitain becomes exo.” Cision, Accessed 3 December, 2022. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/the-reseau-de-transport-metropolitain-becomes-exo-683503751.html
Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM). “Rapport annuel 2018.” Exo. 2019