International Critical Control Room Congress

CCD recently attended the inaugural International Critical Control Room Congress in Geneva. The first event of its kind held by the International Critical Control Rooms Alliance (ICCRA), who bring together critical control room professionals in order to help deliver excellent mission critical services.

A mix of emergency services, utilities, transport, systems, design and technology, the event focused on the four special interest groups of the ICCRA:

  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Environment and Ergonomics
  • People and Performance

David, Managing Director of CCD, is the chair of the ‘Environment and Ergonomics’ special interest group.

The conference touched on many topics within these four subject umbrellas. However, there were several overall themes.

Large Hadron Collider Control Room

Image: CERN Large Hadron Collider control room designed by CCD

Services: Expectations vs reality

A central theme of the conference was the connection between the service expectations of the public and how control rooms support service delivery. For public safety organisations it raised the question of the ability of the emergency services to meet these expectations. David Jackson from the London Metropolitan Police Service shared some insights found that the public expect the same levels of service from public institutions as they do any other brand. However, their ability to deliver these levels of service is impacted by many external factors including politics, lack of funding and technology.


Invest in people

In the Environment and Ergonomics track, we heard from Rossano Giachiano from CERN.  Rossano discussed how vital the ergonomics study was to the success of the project and the very real impacts that the update of the CERN control room had on the scientists and operators. A major change they noticed was that people genuinely enjoyed being in the new space. Instead of working in the office, people would come out into the common areas in the control room to work because they enjoyed the environment.

Volker Grantz at Frequentis highlighted the importance of UX and the huge cost of fixing things later. Involving ergonomic studies at the inception of a project means that any problems will be fixed in the beginning, saving interim mistakes and reducing costs of fixing later.

The consensus was that investing in your control suite has compelling benefits to staff wellbeing. Creating an environment they will enjoy is as much of an investment into staff as it is in the physical space.

Trust: humans and systems

The lack of trust operators have in the system was an issue that was raised. It was observed that, in change projects, operators were requesting more screens than was feasible. Evidently, this was due to the operator overloading themselves with work and monitoring unnecessary processes due to a lack of trust in the system. This highlighted the importance of proper workload mapping on control room projects to ensure that human error is kept to a minimum, and that the operator is not overloaded.



A common theme across many attendees was co-location and consolidation of locations. Enabled mostly by enhancements in technology making remote monitoring possible. One point was that the amalgamation of one space prompts funding in the system change, as the needs of the operators change. There was talk of the disconnect between project stages: the system infrastructure, the physical space and human-system UX. These are very rarely undertaken at once, but by the time you have finished one, the others are now outdated or need changes. To get the best results, there must be synergy between each stage of the project.

As the first one of its kind, the International Critical Control Room Congress was a great success.

With speakers from a diverse range of industries and disciplines, it was a fantastic opportunity to learn from our peers but also highlighted how the work that CCD are doing on an everyday basis supports and impacts a range of sectors and the people who work within them.

We look forward to the next one and sharing with those there how we have developed in 2018.

You can see images from the event here.


Stephanie Clarke

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