Category Archives: Control Rooms

How Virtual Solutions Are Changing The Air Traffic Control Landscape

Physical air traffic control (ATC) towers may soon be a thing of the past as virtual solutions offer cost savings and added safety. Instead of an on-site tower, virtual air traffic control rooms can be low-rise buildings located hundreds of miles away from the airport. Live video is displayed on screens for controllers, who can access and control cameras and other communication devices remotely. One virtual air traffic control room can manage multiple airports, perhaps even dozens at a time.

Improved Safety

Virtual ATC rooms provide improved visibility to air traffic controllers. IP-based cameras powered by PoE can be located anywhere throughout the airport grounds. They offer 360-degree views and remote PTZ capabilities to see places traditional control towers cannot. Cameras with infrared or other special sensors enable enhanced viewing at night and during bad weather. Additionally, the video images can be superimposed with flight information to help controllers manage traffic and improve communication with pilots.

Reduced Costs

Virtual air traffic control rooms are much less costly to build than traditional towers in terms of physical building and equipment costs as well as operating costs. The scalability of virtual technologies results in additional cost savings. Airports can add switches and cameras as they grow and pay for equipment only as it is needed.

Norway is currently consolidating ATC from 15 small airports into one central virtual control room—with the potential to add even more airports in the future. The country anticipates savings of 30 to 40% in reduced building, equipment, maintenance and personnel costs thanks to the virtual solution.

Enhanced Security

IP-based camera networks for air traffic control contain numerous redundancies to ensure network availability. These include dual power supplies and additional routes for data. Because the virtual ATC tower can be located far away from the airport, it can stay up and running even if an emergency—such as a fire, power outage or terrorist attack—happens at the airport.

Mission-Critical Reliability

The stakes are very high for virtual air traffic control towers. Visualization and communication must continue at all times to ensure the safety of travelers as well as the efficient management of traffic flow. Reliable equipment and redundancies are a must, and it is essential to maintain the security of the data being transferred to protect airports from hackers and terrorists.

Solutions for Virtual Air Traffic Control

  • IP-based cameras powered by PoE deliver high-definition video
  • High-performance IP-based KVM matrix switching solutions provide access to safe and climate controlled physical or virtual servers in a central equipment room
  • Industrial Ethernet switches are designed to withstand harsh conditions and provide instantaneous failover for mission-critical applications
  • PoE industrial media converters power cameras and backhaul video traffic over long distances when integrated with fiber
  • Dynamic video walls display data for air traffic controllers in real time
  • Network accessibility enables controllers and administrators to view video feeds from any web-enabled device

While virtual air traffic control towers are still very new (the first one began operating in 2015) and not yet widespread, the advantages they offer suggest that they will soon replace physical towers even at the world’s biggest and busiest airports.

Black Box has the equipment and expertise to help you plan and implement a reliable, secure and cost-effective virtual ATC infrastructure. Visit our airports solution page to learn more about Black Box ATC technology solutions or contact us today to get started.

Ensure IEC 60945 Compliance with KVM for Maritime

The maritime industry relies on KVM technology for a range of applications—from the engine room to the wheelhouse. Given the unique challenges of operating in a marine environment, ensuring the security, quality and reliability of mission-critical navigation and communication systems is essential. The international standard IEC 60945 certifies that equipment has passed stringent tests on security, the operating environment and electromagnetic compatibility. Ultimately, IEC 60945 determines what equipment can be installed on a ship or bridge area. Choosing products that are pre-certified can help you stay compliant.

KVM for maritime applications
Vessels that use KVM technology include personal watercrafts, military vessels, dredgers, luxury cruise liners and sea freight containers. Regardless of the type of craft, KVM matrix switches can operate hundreds of computers over one or more consoles. KVM Multiview enables simultaneous monitoring and management of multiple computers.

KVM technology can optimize IT installations, monitoring and control—both on shore and off. Applications include control rooms as well as accessing radar and GPS systems on multiple bridge control stations. KVM extension solutions also link technical equipment rooms to bridges, and they can manage control processes.

IEC standard
Certain high-performance KVM products are pre-certified and allow maritime engineers to remain compliant with the IEC standard. These six are available from Black Box:

  • ACXMODH6BPAC-R2, ACXMODH2R-P-R2
    -Both support a variety of power supply options with a chassis that can hold up to six DKM modular cards.
  • ACX1MT-DHID-C and ACX1MT-DHID-2C DVI-D, USB HID, CATx Transmitter and Receiver
    -Both can be installed in the DKM modular housing chassis.
  • ACXC48: 48-Port Compact DKM Switch
    -This switch enables matrix switching and management for DKM extenders.
  • KVP4004: Multiviewer KVM Switch
    -This switch provides access to up to four CPUs that can be monitored simultaneously in real time.

The IEC 60945 certification is issued only after rigorous testing. For example, among other qualifications, KVM technology must be proven to withstand the vibration, humidity and temperature extremes common in marine environments.

To achieve certification, Black Box helped customers perform their own critical equipment tests in the field to ensure these products meet the demands of their profession. The IEC 60945 accreditation means these tools can be deployed anywhere on a vessel, from the engine room to the technology room and the wheelhouse.

Black Box plans to release additional products that meet IEC 60945 standards in the future. Learn more about our maritime industry expertise and IEC 60945 accreditation, or visit our digital KVM Switches for product information.

Five Types of Video Walls for Control Rooms

The majority of control rooms have some sort of large display wall, whether a single or multiple screens, tiles, or projectors.  This helps to create large-scale visualisation and a common operating picture for everyone in the control room.

There are several ways to implement video walls for control rooms depending on the level of complexity and budget.  The purpose of this post is a focus on the video processing aspects of the video wall, not on the display technologies.  To help put different options in perspective, the following descriptions are provided for comparison.

Basic Video Walls

basic-video-wallMonitor Wall
The Monitor Wall is the simplest form of video wall as it is just a collection of individual monitors.  Each piece of content is limited to a single screen and cannot be scaled across multiple screens.  A monitor wall can be driven by dedicated sources, or it could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) to switch content on the screens.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

quad-screen-wallQuad-Screen Wall
A Quad-Screen Wall is a 2×2 video wall on which a single input is scaled across all four monitors.  The wall could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) or even just a small presentation switcher if the number of inputs is limited.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

Intermediate Video Walls

intermediate-video-wallMulti-Window Wall
A Multi-Window Video Wall can support content that scales across multiple screens, can be larger than a 2×2, but the content windows are limited to screen sizes.   For example, with a 4×4 wall, up to four 2×2 windows could be displayed, or a 3×3 window with 7 additional single screen windows, or the entire 4×4 could be a single window.  Or, there could be two 2×2 windows with eight additional single screen windows.  An IP-based matrix solution is a very easy and low cost way to implement this type of video wall.

Multi-View Video Wall
A Multi-View Video Wall is driven by a multi-viewer, which is a video processor that provides a limited number of pre-designed layouts for a single output.  Options typically range from 4-8 windows.  A multi-viewer can be used when the number of windows and scalability of a larger video wall processor is not required.  A multi-viewer can also be coupled with a projector or quad-screen wall processor to increase the viewing size.

Advanced Video Wall

radian-video-wallAn Advanced Video Wall is one that supports a large number of screens of different form factors (e.g. 2×2, 3×2, 6×3, etc.) and offers a canvas-type display interface on which numerous content windows can be dynamically moved or resized.  Advanced video wall processors support dozens of screens and numerous types of video inputs. The processor can also support native decoding of IP streams for displaying large numbers of streams from IP-based security cameras, and can also support encoding of video sources for sharing to additional sites or users.  Advance wall processors can typically drive more than one video wall from the same system.

Below is a summary of several features and capabilities of the different type of video wall processors used in control rooms.

Control Room Video Wall Types

Monitor Wall Quad-Screen Wall Multi-Window Video Wall Multi-View Video Wall Advanced Video Wall
Suggested video wall processor MediaCento IPX AVS Series MediaCento IPX VideoPlex4 MediaCento IPX 4Site Radian
Size Basic Size Intermediate Size Advanced Size
Content
Windows
1 per screen One for the entire wall Multiple sizes, typically limited to 4×4 Typically 4-8 Only limited by practical viewing size
Content
Size
Limited to single screens One image across all screens Limited to screen boundaries All windows on a single video output, but can feed into other wall processors. Windows can be freely moved and resized anywhere on the screen
Window
Resizing
No No Yes, limited to screen boundaries (e.g. increase a 2×2 to 3×3) Yes, typically based on pre-set window layouts but PiP and Windowed views can be scaled. Yes. Any window can be any size.
Video Input Types Limited. Monitor inputs type limit options unless driven by a flexible matrix switch. Limited. Typically a single video type such as HDMI, DVI, or DispalyPort Limited, but modular processors typically support multiple input types. Limited, but modular multi-viewers typically support multiple input types. Typically support all standard video types including VGA, Component, Composite, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, SDI, and IP.

 

The digital signage industry is growing big with video wall installations being used in retail stores, hospitality environments, sports venues, emergency operation centres, power plants, traffic management centres and more. We’re living in an age where monitoring business-critical or even life-critical operations 24/7 is a must. Operators need to rely on dependable visualisation, often in a networked setup, for their decision making. Whilst choosing the right video wall processor depends on distinct factors that rely on different factors like the level of complexity and budget, it is unquestionable that large-scale visualisation is necessary for critical monitoring environments, making it easier for information sharing, faster communication, and optimal performance of control rooms. Black Box provides expert engineering support to design a solution that meets your technical and budgetary requirements. Contact our technical team today for a free, customised system design.

Visit our Video Walls Solutions page to get to know more: www.black-box.eu/videowallproducts