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Control room

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Lucens reactor's control room
NASA's "Shuttle" (White) Flight Control Room in Houston, Texas

A control room or operations room is a central space where a large physical facility or physically dispersed service can be monitored and controlled. It is often part of a larger command center.


A control room's purpose is production control, and serves as a central space where a large physical facility or physically dispersed service can be monitored and controlled. Central control rooms came into general use in factories during the 1920s.[1]

Control rooms for vital facilities are typically tightly secured and inaccessible to the general public. Multiple electronic displays and control panels are usually present, and there may also be a large wall-sized display area visible from all locations within the space. Some control rooms are themselves under continuous video surveillance and recording, for security and personnel accountability purposes. Many control rooms are occupied on a "24/7/365" basis, and may have multiple people on duty at all times (such as implementation of a "two-man rule"), to ensure continuous vigilance.

Other special-purpose control room spaces may be temporarily set up for special projects (such as an oceanographic exploration mission), and closed or dismantled once the project is concluded.


Greifswald Nuclear Power Plant control room in 1990.

Control rooms are typically found in installations such as:

Special hazards and mitigation[edit]

Control rooms are usually equipped with elaborate fire suppression and security systems to safeguard their contents and occupants, and to ensure continued operation in emergencies. In hazardous environments, they may also be areas of refuge for personnel trapped on-site. They are typically crowded with equipment, mounted in multi-function rack mount cabinets to allow updating. The concentration of equipment often requires special electrical uninterruptible power supply (UPS) feeds and air conditioning.

Since the control equipment is intended to control other items in the surrounding facility, these often fire-resistance rated service rooms require many penetrations for cables. Due to routine equipment updates, these penetrations are subject to frequent changes, requiring maintenance programs to include vigilant firestop management for code compliance.

Due to the sensitive equipment in control room cabinets, it is useful to ensure the use of "T-rated" firestops that are massive and thick enough to resist heat transmission to the inside of the control room. It is also common to place control rooms under positive pressure ventilation to prevent smoke or toxic gases from entering. If used, gaseous fire suppressants must occupy the space that is to be protected for a minimum period of time to be sure a fire can be completely extinguished. Openings in such spaces must therefore be kept to a minimum to prevent the escape of the suppression gas.

A mobile control room is designated as particularly in high risk facilities, such as a nuclear power station or a petrochemical facility.[further explanation needed] It can provided a guaranteed life support for the anticipated safety control.


The design of a control room incorporates ergonomic and aesthetic features including optimum traffic flow, acoustics, illumination, and health and safety of the workers.[2] Ergonomic considerations determine the placement of humans and equipment to ensure that operators can easily move into, out of, and around the control room, and can interact with each other without any hindrances during emergency situations; and to keep noise and other distractions to a minimum.

In popular culture[edit]

Control room scenes dealing with crisis situations appear frequently in thriller novels and action films. In addition, a few documentaries have been filmed with scenes in real-life control room settings.

  • Fail-Safe - a 1964 Cold war thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. It portrays a fictional account of a Cold War nuclear crisis.
  • The Prisoner - a 1967 British television series (17 episodes), which follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious coastal village resort where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job.
  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three - a 1974 American thriller film directed by Joseph Sargent, produced by Edgar J. Scherick, and starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and Héctor Elizondo. Peter Stone adapted the screenplay, from the 1973 novel of the same name by Morton Freedgood (under the pen name John Godey) about a group of criminals taking hostage for ransom the passengers of a busy New York City Subway car.
  • The China Syndrome - a 1979 American thriller film that tells the story of a television reporter and her cameraman who discover safety coverups at a nuclear power plant. It stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, with Douglas also serving as the film's producer.
  • GoldenEye - a 1995 spy film, and 17th in the James Bond franchise, features 2 control rooms used for Command and control of a fictitious satellite based weapon, the original control room belonging to the USSR and a replica built by the Janus Crime Syndicate who have taken possession of the satellite for nefarious purposes. The latter also featured as a playable level in the videogame of the same name for the Nintendo 64.
  • Minority Report - a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington DC, and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where "PreCrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs".
  • Control Room - a 2004 documentary film about Al Jazeera and its relations with the US Central Command (CENTCOM), as well as the other news organizations that covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bennett, S. (1993). A History of Control Engineering 1930-1955. London: Peter Peregrinus Ltd. On behalf of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. ISBN 0-86341-280-7.
  2. ^ Design, Control Room. "Control Room Design". Control Room Design - HSE. Retrieved 12 January 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Lindsay Bjerregaard (Dec 6, 2017). "Managing System Operations At JetBlue". MRO network. Penton. The airline tries to anticipate operational needs and stay ahead of potential disruptions as fleet expansion continues.