The Changing Face of Security Console Design

A Thing of Beauty

Wide spread changes within the security industry in recent years have resulted in a dramatic shift in the approach to security console design. Today's consoles are smaller, more attractive and more functional than ever before. From aesthetics to ergonomics, there is no shortage of influences effecting this transformation. Increased public awareness, the emer gence of digital technology, system integration, flat panel screens, touch screen technology and new ergonomic standards are all responsible for the profound effects on recent security console design.

Historically, security operations centers were hidden away in the depths of buildings, in basements or backrooms where they were seldom—if ever—seen by the public. Because of this, the focus of security console design was mostly function over form. Consoles were rarely things of beauty. No one cared what a console looked like, as long as it was functional and held the equipment necessary to get the job done.


Out of the Closet into Full View

Security is transitioned into a primary concern of the government, corporations and the general public. Security operations have moved to the forefront. In an effort to increase a sense of security, organizations are choosing to make security operations in their facilities extremely visible. “As a result, the technical furniture industry's approach to security console design is changing to include aesthetic considerations,” says Wayne Cook, director of sales for The Winsted Corporation, designers and manufacturers of technical furniture.

Fortunately, evolutionary changes in security technologies are aiding this aesthetic overhaul. Advances such as the emergence of digital technology and the integration of flat panel monitors have allowed designers to create attractive security consoles with compact layout designs.

For instance, new digital video recorders (DVRs) are rapidly replacing their more cumbersome analog predecessors for use with CCTV surveillance systems. These digital devices are now typically smaller and use less space within the console. In most cases, they are even eliminated from the console altogether. Digital file servers allow seated console operators to access real-time or archived information even if the electronics are located behind the scenes in an equipment room.

As an added benefit, moving heat producing larger electronics out of the main security console and into separate secured vertical racks in temperature controlled equipment rooms means there is less heat being produced inside the security console. This arrangement lends itself to aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic consoles and greater comfort for all 24/7-security personnel.

Advances in security system integration are also aiding the smaller console design. The days of having numerous large CRT monitors to view simultaneously are numbered and will soon be a distant memory. Also, many different aspects of a system are able to communicate with each other. For instance, access door controls are linked to cameras, which are linked to multiple surveillance controls. As a result, operators are paying closer attention to information relevant to current security situations.

Today, operators are able to set cameras to send signals to electronic switchers if a camera detects motion, or set door and access control panels to turn on particular cameras and view images on monitoring screens if they are used at inappropriate times. As security systems become more intelligent, console operators require fewer control elements within the console. Security consoles have become part of the IT infrastructure that allows interoperability and integrates access control, CCTV, biometric security, lighting and fire and alarm systems.


Studies Drive Design

Ergonomics and anthropometry, the studies of workers and their relationships with the console environment and body measurements, are a driving factor in the new console designs. Ergonomic standards have been revised to consider these new technologies, including an understanding of anthropometry and our bodies (heads, necks, eye movement and posture) interacting with this working envelope.

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