MICROMATION


MOBILE OPERATIONS CONTROL SYSTEM

ICV Side View

InsideICV
Extended Mast

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Technical Overview

The Micromation Mobile Operations Control Centre (MOCC) is based on a new and novel concept.  It contains a Disaster Management system, a Call Taking and Dispatching system, extensive telephone and radio communications, a digital voice recorder, a weather station, a GPS staff tracking system, electrical standby power systems, a Vehicle Computer Monitoring and Control system, a CCTV system, plus a number of other ancillary systems.  In fact, it has everything that you would expect to find in a fixed Emergency Control Centre.  The operators can even remotely start a disaster "scenario" on the User's Emergency Notification System from any operational site.

The great benefit of a Mobile Operations Centre Vehicle is that it can be placed in full view of a potential disaster and executive decisions can be made effectively at the site.
 

In the event of a potential disaster which could obliterate a fixed control centre, the Mobile Operations Control Centre Vehicle could be speedily relocated to a safe site and the controllers are then able to communicate with, and control the disaster management service providers.
 

Another use of the vehicle in South Africa is to act as a control centre for the 2010 football games, where the vehicle can be used to service a number of different venues.   This is far more economical than building fixed Control Centres in each of the stadiums.  


It is obviously an ideal situation if the decision-makers were always right at the scene of the disaster, as a considerable amount of information can be gleaned by viewing the disaster in relatively close proximity.   However, the current use of a standard Incident Command Vehicle (ICV) is to employ the vehicle largely as a “remote station”.  Activities viewed from this remote station are then transmitted verbally back to a main control centre where the appropriate actions could take place.  This methodology is not ideal, as the decision makers get the information “second hand”.  


The Mobile Operations Centre Vehicle can be used daily as a Command Centre, due to the fact that it is equipped with all the instrumentation and communication facilities a fixed Command Centre would normally use, but the staff can be comfortably accommodated back in the Disaster Management Centre building.   In contrast, one of the disadvantages of a standard Incident Command Vehicle is that it spends a great deal of time parked at a site doing nothing other than wait for a disaster to take place, due to its limited facilities.  Like any other “standby vehicle”, the batteries can run down, electrolytic capacitors can age, there can be an ingress of moisture, etc. and no-one can be absolutely sure that all the facilities will work as and when the vehicle is activated.
 

The MOCC is equipped to house 1 Supervisor, 2 Senior Operators, and 3 standard operators in the vehicle plus a driver and co-driver, and when coupled up to its docking station it can be used by 5 operating positions in the Disaster Management Centre.   However, when on site a purposed built inflatable module is attached to the vehicle and then inflated by means of a small compressor fan.   This technology is vital for use in situations where high winds are likely, and standard lean-to tent would not survive.  


The Supervisor and 2 senior operators each have a dual TFT screen for the Call Taking & Dispatching System and the Disaster Management System, all other operators have a single screen per position for these systems.
 

In addition, all positions are equipped with TFT touch screens controlling the radio/telephony system, which operates independently from the Call Taking and Dispatching Systems for increased reliability.  These two systems communicate with each other via a Computer Telephony Integration Interface (CTI), but either one can crash completely without materially affecting the other.
 

The MOCC contains digital Primary Rate ISDN interfaces, analogue Dial lines, GPRS speech and digital communications, four channel Satellite Voice and Data communications, and 8 Two Way Radio transceivers, half of these using Simulcast technology.    The mast of the vehicle is customed designed to accommodate the very restricted space limitations on the roof of the vehicle, as well as the problems posed by Simulcast transmissions in marginal areas.
 

The Supervisor has a GPS system which accurately tags all his staff in the operational area via their handheld radios at no transmission cost to the User, and without the radios needing to work with a repeater which may have been disabled during the disaster.  In addition, the vehicle has a CCTV system with a fixed PTZ camera on the roof of the vehicle, as well as a mobile CCTV camera and recorder in the immediate field.   The CCTV system can be monitored on the vehicle’s large LCD screen mounted at the front of the operational are, and visible to all staff working in the vehicle.
 

The vehicle is also equipped with an “electronic whiteboard”, where strategy sessions can be automatically captured and printed out on the vehicle’s multi-function printer/scanner/copier/fax machine.
   The multi-function machine is also able to work with the fax channel on the satellite modem.

All video as well as audio conversations with all parties are digitally logged and archived on DVDs in the system, as well as logged at all touch screen consoles, which have “instant replay” buttons.
 

Excessive road vibration is limited by the vehicle having air suspension, and all sensitive equipment having resilient mountings.    A number of the computers used have solid state hard drives to avoid using moving parts.
 

To avoid the vehicle swaying in a strong wind, which would be exacerbated by the radio mast on the roof of the vehicle, the vehicle is equipped with hydraulic stabilizers on all four corners, elctrically operated.
 

All the above facilities need to be managed, and this is done by a unique industrial computer system, that not only oversees the operations, but in addition performs tests on the vehicle electrics, constantly monitors battery voltages, and ensures that the vehicle cannot be driven if the mast is up or the stabilisers have not been retracted.  it is also responsible for intelligently controlling the charging of the vehicle's deep cycle battery.

The vehicle is designed to operate off 220 VAC power while it is in its dock, motor-generator power while on site, and the vehicle's alternator power while driving to and from site, therefore power system design had to be all encompassing.   For exhaust gasses, noise, vibration and easy handling reasons, the standby generators are housed in an accompanying power trailer, which can easily be parked some distance away from the vehicle on site.

The staff’s creature comforts are also attended to – the vehicle has a toilet, as well as a compact kitchenette, and the entire vehicle is fully air conditioned when stationary.  When on route, the cab air conditioner is used.

The above gives a thumbnail sketch of the Mobile Operation Centre, but hopefully there is enough detail to expose you to the engineering design challenges that were overcome in spite of having very limited space considerations.    The multi-disciplined design team involved included communications control system designers, radio system designers, mechanical structural designers, industrial designers, and whole host of other staff.

Contact:

Micromation
P. O. Box 709,
Bedfordview,
2008,
South Africa.
 

Office Phone: +2711 822 1065
Office email : action@micromation.co.za
Fax + 2711 822 1067
 

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