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In the event of an emergency, government entities, corporations, and institutions all depend on specialized facilities to support security and public safety groups that collect critical information and organize responses. Inside these emergency response and operations facilities — which include public safety answer points (PSAP) and command-and-control environments — a wide range of data and communications is monitored and analyzed. The starting point for the design of these facilities is to focus on users.
These critical PSAP/command center environments may also serve as the point of dispatch for a range of security, law enforcement, or first-responder agents. Some of these spaces operate on a 24/7/365 basis, while other functions within a PSAP/command center facility are activated only in response to incidents and emergencies requiring an organization of assets that address pressing needs. The gravity of the situations that cause these facilities to swing into action means that the buildings must meet very high levels of operational readiness — and that their occupants are under high levels of stress.
Unfortunately, the growing number of emergencies, both natural and caused by human beings, has intensified security needs and reliability demands for PSAP/command center facilities. This is well chronicled within the mission-critical community. The degree to which these facilities are planned with the end-user in mind may be a different matter. A thorough operational understanding should inform planning and design; the goal is to create environments that address the full range of needs and support user requirements sensibly and intuitively, especially under times of stress.
"Essential facility" is often the umbrella term addressing the various forms of communications and command/control functions and may invoke requirements for higher design standards than are typically encountered, depending on the specific functions and purpose or population served:
Emergency Response And Operations Facilities: Focus Design On Users
Critical-Equipment-Room Planning In PSAP/Command Centers
Flat-Panel Display Issues In PSAP/Command Centers