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Inside the data-driven OCC

Visualise the data that matters

  • Provides operators with the right information at the right time
  • Common human-machine interface (HMI) for all tasks
  • Eliminates functional silos

The Operation Control Centre (OCC) is the nerve centre of the modern railway network. The scope of operations is vast: as well as supervising traffic, the OCC looks after everything from communications and security to power supplies and passenger information. In short, the safety and comfort of passengers depends on what happens in the OCC.

Rail operators face three major challenges with their OCCs. The first is the lack of a common interface: control systems all have different ergonomics, so they can be difficult to use. 

Functional silos are the second challenge. To improve incident management, our customers need links between all their operational systems. 

Finally, there’s the problem of information overload. OCCs deal with raw data from thousands of sensors. To accelerate decision making, operators need easy ways to visualise the data that matters.

The data-driven OCC provides solutions to all of these problems. “It works by centralising applications and operational data from sensors and systems,” says Franck Butterlin-Fillon, Product Line Manager, Operation Control for Transportation Activities at Thales. “This is achieved using a single, secure Digital Platform. 

On the Digital Platform, big data tools – such as machine learning and data analytics – are used to deliver new functions, assist operators and improve system performance. 

“The data-driven OCC unifies the user experience because it has a common human-machine interface,” explains Butterlin-Fillon. “This makes life much easier for operators and also reduces the need for training.”

Operational silos are eliminated in the data-driven OCC. Different functions, such as traffic management and video surveillance, can communicate with each other on the platform. This not only provides new insights, but also means that a single operator is able to manage several functions at the same time.

“One of the key benefits is rapid reaction in a crisis,” says Butterlin-Fillon. “When an abnormal event is detected, such as a fire or an obstacle on the line, information is filtered, focused and prioritised, so operators don’t waste time trying to work out what’s going on.” 

As well as detecting abnormal events, the data-driven OCC provides decision support. This is based on real time data – a digital checklist that assists operators every step of the way. “It’s all about providing operators with the right information at the right time, so they can focus on the part of the job that matters,” says Butterlin-Fillon.

The data-driven OCC is important because it creates new opportunities to improve performance and safety by combining data from different sources. 

Intrusion detection is an example: by combining video analytics with traffic management, it’s possible to detect unauthorised access to the track and automatically reorganise traffic. This ensures staff safety on the track and saves hours of disruption. 

“We’ve defined more than 50 use cases covering everything from passenger flow to energy efficiency,” says Butterlin-Fillon. “And we’re working with customers all over the world to identify even more.”