Unified operations centers

Jeffrey Woodward and Marc Naese of Panduit have deployed an innovative UOC at its world headquarters facility

An operations center is a structured environment that serves as the primary workspace for monitoring, directing and coordinating operations activities, including identifying and responding to situations that require specific and immediate non-routine attention. There are many types of operations centers, and most are familiar with these three types: Security Operations Center (SOC), Network Operations Center (NOC) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Traditionally, organizations have separate operations centers for each type. This was a natural occurrence, as in the past, most information displays and some communications capabilities were hard-wired and inflexible - resulting in the dedication of physical space to particular functions.

Thus, two negative effects of multiple operations centers have been largely unavoidable: the duplication of physical and electronic supporting infrastructure, and the isolation of information between siloed operations centers.

However, today, computer-based information and communications capabilities provide real-time flexibility. Any information or communication can be routed anywhere, and rules-based systems can automate initial routing and handling for time-critical evaluation and response. The factors that have necessitated infrastructure duplication and functional isolation for operations centers in the past no longer exist. It is now possible to have unified operations centers, where two or more operations functions are combined.

Panduit World Headquarters

One leading corporation is intimately familiar with operations center infrastructure: Panduit (www.Panduit.com). Founded in 1955 in Chicago, Illinois, Panduit now has more than 3,000 employees in office, manufacturing and distribution facilities across the globe.

When Panduit's expanding business called for the construction of a new World Headquarters building, its executives realized that they had an opportunity to eliminate the typical duplication and isolation of separate operations centers, by combining their SOC and NOC into a single workspace that they dubbed the U-OC2 - a dual-function Unified Operations Center (Security/Safety Operations and Network Operations).

"The concept of unified operations was instinctive thinking for us - a natural extension of the Unified Physical Infrastructure (UPI) approach that shapes our product design and development work, and also defined the design for our new headquarters facility," says Jeffrey Woodward, Senior Manager, Global EHS & Security at Panduit.

UPI is an architecture that integrates hardware and software products with design principles to create an integrated infrastructure that aligns and harmonizes critical building systems - power, communication, computing, security and control (such as lighting, HVAC, and factory automation). These are collectively referred to as physical infrastructure systems under the UPI approach, because all are equally required to optimize the specific operational environments of a given building or facility.

The convergence of applications and communications onto a unified IP-based network infrastructure is a common trend among physical infrastructure systems. This means, among other things, that their data can be shared across the spectrum of applications for improved operational awareness and response. The objectives are efficiency and operational cost-savings, as well as higher levels of system and organizational performance.

For example, lighting and air conditioning can follow building occupancy, as well as the arming and disarming of alarm zones. Phones, network switches and other electronic devices can be automatically powered down or put into their hibernation state, to reduce power consumption when their use is not needed. Emergency responses can be tailored in real-time based on building occupancy and building physical conditions. (See "Connected Buildings and Security Systems" - page 22 - for two videos that present more detail on the operational and technological context for security in connected buildings, and how this impacts the value that security technologies can provide to the business.)

Unifying Operations

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