Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Design of Australian Defence Command and Control Centers

DSD Cyber Security Operations Centre, 13 January 2010, DoD photoThe November 2011 edition of "Australian Defence Magazine" (ADM) has several articles on the Australian Defence Department project JP 2030 (Joint Command Support Environment) and issues of cyber security. Most interesting are "JP2030 Reaches Its Next Stage" (Gregor Ferguson, Page 40) and "The Extent of the Cyber Security Threat" (John Hilvert, page 60), "The Roles of Defence and Government in Cyber Security" (John Hilvert).
Operator and console at the DSD Cyber Security Operations Centre, 13 January 2010, DoD photoThese articles are accompanied by photos of two operations centers. One is the Defence Signals Directorate Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), opened in January 2010. This has operators in civilian clothing sitting in a typical operations centre room layout.

The other photos in ADM show personnel in ADF uniforms in what appears to be a room with an identical layout and furniture, but with different desktop computers, telephones and wall screens. This appears to be the same room captioned "Air Operations Centre in Canberra" by RAAF News.

As discussed previously, the design of the room does not appear optimal for space utilization or group work. The desks, at 800 mm, are deeper than needed (smaller desks could double the room capacity). The use of two screens per workstation creates a situation where the operator has to look either to the left or right, not straight ahead. There are only limited gaps between the screens cutting the operators off from those in front and behind. Also the desk rows are straight, reducing the ability of the operators to see others. Narrower semicircular rows of desks would provide a better result. These could be fabricated simply (height adjustment is not used in such centres, as is evident from the photographs). Also it might be better to provide each operator with just one large monitor (up to 30 inch).

Many of the same problems are evident in the design of the ADF Special Operations Command and Control Center in Afghanistan, as depicted in the Channel Ten documentary "First Look: Tour of Duty - Australia's Secret War" (at 58 seconds into the video). This has four rows of desks, in two columns, with a walkway down the middle, and three projection screens on the front wall. Standard office desks appear to be being used, which are not optimal for such a facility, where space is at a premium.

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