Communications: The heart of an Operations Control Centre

Enrique Bolivar
November 18, 2022

Next-generation OCC enables mission-critical communications, improves efficiency and transport operators’ decision-making.

Control room image for blog post

The Operations Control Centre (OCC) is the brain that manages the transport operators’ day-to-day activities. It’s here that the magic happens to ensure everything runs smoothly. However, sometimes passenger service can get disrupted when incidents occur such as, technical failures in the transport system, on trains, planes or any other mass transit systems; weather conditions; traffic incidents; labor strikes and accidents. These disruptions can cause unacceptable delays and resource shortages. The OCC must provide a coordinated response, in a timely manner, to reduce and recover from operational interruptions and to minimise the impact on passenger service.

Some of the main OCC functions include:

Monitoring operations
Anticipating problems
Managing the planned operations schedule 
Minimising service disruption

At the same time, the OCC is tasked with maintaining performance and providing quality of service, as well as lowering operational costs. In other words, the OCC is responsible for the execution of a daily schedule, as planned, without busting the budget. 

Efficient OCC operation depends on having the right solution, as well as coordinated and collaborative work between the stakeholders who represent different core business units.

A complex ecosystem of solutions converges in the OCC where they are often challenged to deliver new services that require new applications. This means everything needs to be integrated in order to have effective control of the operations.

The modules that make up the solution must be open and able to integrate with others. APIs provide the key elements for enabling interconnection between different ecosystem components. With open APIs, operators can create new services, integrate applications and meet new requirements. Additionally, the APIs create opportunities to innovate.

Communication services are the cornerstone of an efficient OCC. These vital services enable the collaborative coordination of various stakeholders in the OCC. They can improve visibility about the information coming in and they can reduce recovery time.

Communications are mission- critical for the OCC to ensure operations and users’ security. A foundation based on reliable/secure communications can:

• Support complementary services such as call taking/dispatch
• Enable coordination and collaboration between stakeholders
• Improve information awareness 
• Offer openness to easily integrate with different functional blocks at the OCC

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise offers a broad communications portfolio that covers telephony services based on the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX® Enterprise. The portfolio includes an alarm notification server, emergency crisis management, voice recording, a Dispatch Console to deal with a high volume of call taking/dispatching and enhance collaboration. Additionally, a Remote Visual Assistance (RVA) solution streamlines  on-site interventions by improving interactions between field workers and OCC expert staff and reduces the downtime. These communication services are integrated and interconnected with the OCC functional blocks such as radio, Public Announcement (PA), Passenger Display Information (PDI) through standard protocols and APIs. Additionally, the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Open Gateway, a dedicated API server, increases integration capabilities that include a set of RESTful APIs to host ALE and customer applications such as:

• Telephony services
• Management capabilities
• Analytics

Real-time collaboration is vital for OCC task coordination and information awareness between stakeholders. It improves responsiveness while minimising the impact on end users during irregular operations. The integration of a solution with business processes and communications solutions is key to enabling efficient operations. The Rainbow™ by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise CPaaS solution integrates with the customer environment to provide communications services such as chat, file sharing, voice and video, over any device. At the same time, Rainbow leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots, system databases and analytics to automate and simplify operational processes and create new services.

Evolution to a collaborative operational environment is the next step for many OCCs. Integrating the different functional blocks is the main driver to enable interaction between the stakeholders, increase communication, improve situational awareness and enhance the decision-making process.

Next-generation OCC

The next-generation OCC is being driven by technology and digital transformation. Integration of new components will deliver added value to complex OCC environments. This new evolution is based on three main pillars consisting of:

1. SIP technology at the core of the communications solution to support/offer advanced telephony features and help pave the way for a smooth migration to the next-generation.
2. A cloud platform to connect to the OCC. WebRTC services offer borderless communications and collaboration between customers and employees through integration with mobile apps and multimedia self-service interfaces, such as kiosk, and commercial apps using the Rainbow connector.
3. Hybrid private/public cloud solutions to deliver new services and increase reliability.

Evolution to next-generation OCC for transport operators enables significant advantages including:

• Implementation of a fast recovery plan through a cloud-based operator
• Enriched OCC interaction by connecting Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to automate processes 
• Enhanced contextual information that qualifies incidents, improves efficiency and helps staff in the decision-making process

Enrique Bolivar

Enrique Bolivar

Solution Marketing, Transportation, ALE

Enrique, as Transportation solution marketing, is responsible for the creation of solutions, value propositions and content to address the different transportation sectors such as Railway, ATI, ITS and Ports and Logistics, supporting the global ALE sales team. He has over 15 years of experience in the telecommunication industry working on the enterprise market. Enrique was part of the International Central Presales team providing support to sales and presales teams worldwide with a strong knowledge on end-to-end solutions, network VoIP design, UCC and UCaaS solutions.

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