November 23, 2022

Article
3 min

How State and Local Governments Can Enhance Mission-Critical Operations Centers

As agencies find new ways to take advantage of data, a trusted partner can help them optimize operations.

Jason Schwartz

Data has become a powerful resource for state and local government agencies charged with maintaining public safety. Effective data analysis has been a tool for improved decision-making for decades, but in recent years, the growing volume of data created and collected by state and local governments has expanded the number of opportunities for data analytics. 

Agencies are finding new ways to put this evolving set of resources to use. They are working to deploy these efforts quickly and effectively, and searching for tactics that can optimize their results. Often, success relies on the cooperation of multiple agencies. One way governments achieve this is by setting up mission-critical operations centers (MCOCs) that provide a common operating picture to facilitate and optimize collaborative analysis and decision-making.

An MCOC is a centralized place where a government can conduct analysis on multiple streams of data to improve decision-making. But building out an MCOC requires agencies to integrate a variety of technologies while enabling effective collaboration and ensuring the security of sensitive data. Often, a partner can help governments achieve these objectives by providing expertise that agencies may not have in staff.

Elements of an MCOC

State and local agencies have set up MCOCs for a variety of purposes, including crime fighting, emergency operations, transportation and cyber intelligence. In some cases, fusion centers enable close collaboration among local, state and federal agencies to address issues spanning multiple jurisdictions.

Along with bringing data from numerous sources together for analysis, these centers also must integrate a number of technologies, including: 

  • Audiovisual components, such as video walls, connected displays and audio equipment 
  • Servers and computers to run analysis software and process information.
  • Collaboration platforms to enable analysts and decision-makers — along with first responders in the field — to work together.

In addition to technology integration, these centers can use lighting and other visual cues to optimize workflows and enhance operations. It’s essential that different groups, such as law enforcement, firefighters and administrators, are able to work together effectively.

Services to Help Agencies Achieve Success

State and local governments have increased their production of data through smart city technologies such as cameras and sensors. These data streams provide a valuable resource for MCOCs, which use analytics, visualization software and video walls to integrate and display the data. But many agencies need help as they build out MCOCs and integrate data streams for analysis. They may engage outside experts to ensure the technologies they deploy can achieve the desired outcomes.

Security services are key to protecting government data, which is a target of cybercriminals, including state-sponsored attacks. Government agencies should consider vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to determine where their cybersecurity posture may be weak, as well as a gap analysis to create a roadmap to improvement. A security partner can also help develop an incident response plan, which is important to an MCOC’s continuity of operations.

Infrastructure services may also be helpful as governments set up an MCOC. A partner can provide expertise that helps IT teams identify solutions to optimize operations, including networking, data backup and protection, audiovisual displays and software for analytics and collaboration. 

Agencies may further benefit from spatial engineering services, which can help them design an MCOC to best meet their needs. A partner can map out data flows and set up equipment, furniture and even lighting to optimize the decision-making process. These services can enhance efficient operation, maximize the intake of data and facilitate decision-making.  

As an agency designs an MCOC, it should keep the people who will work there in mind. These critical human assets will need to eat, take breaks and meet other needs that can arise during 24-hour operations.

Story by Jason Schwartz, the Senior Manager for Strategy and Business Development at CDW, where he leads CDW’s state and local capture and business development organization. He is a 17-year veteran of the IT industry working exclusively with government entities across the country.

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