Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, covering a service territory of approximately 104,000 square miles in the Carolinas, Midwest and Florida, and supplying energy to about 7.2 million U.S. electric retail customers. The Enterprise Security Command Center (ESCC) is the focal point for Duke’s security operations. Here, Duke Energy facilities spread across the company’s vast service territory are centrally monitored to ensure the safety and security of Duke’s critical infrastructure, assets and employees.
CriticalSpace Solutions, a Georgia-based company that specializes in collaborative visual communications, provided the original programming and conceptual designs,and integrated all of the audiovisual solutions in the ultramoderncommand center, which was commissioned just last year. The centerpiece of the command center is a gigantic 40-foot video wall that can display real-time or recorded video, weather maps, websites, operator workstations mapped to it — virtually any visual information needed for situational awareness. It has eight sections, each of which can be subdivided into four to 16 customizable viewing panels.
“The things that were strikingly evident to me when I went in there the first time were the ergonomic design, the functionality of the workstations, and their relationship to the video wall,” says Darren Myers, managing director of Enterprise Protective Services for Duke Energy. “Everything is very well situated so that the operators can sit in a comfortable environment for long periods of time, and supervisors can have a clear view of operators and the activity displayed on the video wall.”
Another innovative feature of the facility is its colocated workspace for technical support staff, partitioned from the main command center by a wall. “If we encounter any problem with our equipment, the support staff is right there; they can quickly determine what’s going on and resolve it,” explains Rocco A. Marcello Jr., who as former director of Duke Energy’s Enterprise Protective Services, spearheaded the project. “There’s no lag in communication.”
Adjacent to the command center floor is a large conference room, also designed by CriticalSpace Solutions. The side facing out to the floor is essentially a glass wall. This gives observers in the conference room a clear view of the 40-foot video wall, so they always have awareness of what’s going on in the command center. The room can also double as a crisis center during large-scale events. “Management is able to visually see what’s going on across the enterprise, so it really enhances their decision making and response,” adds Marcello. “The layout really fosters that.”
New technology also essential to decision making, response
Duke Energy also has the distinction of being one of the first electric power companies in the U.S. to successfully deploy PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) technology in its security operation.
“We began looking at PSIM about three or four years ago; the primary driver was the growing number of alarms and signals that were coming into our center that required a response,” says Marcello. “We were looking for the best and most effective way to manage this increasing workload, with a particular focus on regulatory-driven requirements — because the consequence of not applying the appropriate responses can result in penalties and violations.
“From a cost perspective, we also wanted to curb the growth in manpower by providing tools to increase our security operators’ productivity and efficiency. That’s how we came to identify PSIM, and specifically NICE Situator, as a key element of our plans going forward.”