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GCN : December 2012
30 GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM IT INTEGRATION CASE STUDY turbine plants, three nuclear plants and 29 hydroelectric dams. With main offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville, and Muscle Shoals, Ala., TVA also is the controlling entity for the eastern half of the U.S. power grid, forming a critical part of the national in- frastructure. Although created as a government corporation, it is self-funding today and receives no tax money. Operating revenue from electricity sales totaled $11.7 billion in 2011. "It met the needs at that time," Youngblood said of the previous TVA operations center, which dated to the early 1990s. It was pri- marily a help desk for the system's network, which serves about 2,500 endpoints and two data centers, in Knoxville and Chatta- nooga. Some problem resolution was done on-site, but mostly it served as a dispatch service for field technicians who did the ac- tual trouble shooting and resolution. NOT ENOUGH SPACE FOR TECH NEEDS "We improved over time," Youngblood said, but with the emergence of new threats and risks, the network needed near real-time moni- toring and surveillance to detect and respond to disruptions caused by weather, attacks or security breaches. "The center did not give us the space for the technology we needed for the world-class center we envisioned," he explained. In 2010 the authority began considering location options for the new facility and concluded that it should remain in the Chattanooga complex, Bingel said. Six months of construction began in 2011 and the existing center was squeezed into space on another floor while its old home was remodeled. The space was gutted and expanded from one sixth of the floor to half, and new technology was installed. The new facility supports 80 staff positions and five management and administrative positions on the main floor, and has a large con- ference room that can serve as an emergency operations center if needed, as well as two smaller conference rooms. Each workstation has three monitors and its own uninterruptable power source, and the conference rooms have large-screen monitors. The center is dominated by a video wall with a three-by-six matrix of high-definition flat screen monitors from Planar Systems for moni- toring news and weather feeds for conditions that could affect the power grid in the Southeast. "That's critical for our people to know in advance," said Erik McGann, manager of IT operations. The entrance area of the room is occupied by the front-line call re- ceivers. Behind them is the problem resolution center, which gets the more difficult problems. The event and incident management teams in the back control the video feeds. Sight and sound were primary considerations in designing the cen- ter, Youngblood said. Furniture and work stations were kept low to ensure clear lines of sight to the video wall. And with 50 to 60 people in an open space, many of them handling incoming telephone calls, noise also is an issue. The center is designed with three audio zones to control and target sound input. Among the key lessons learned in building out the operations cen- ter were: plan and build for the organization's mission and also for the future, Youngblood said. The goal was to create a facility that would not be outgrown in 20 years. "Hopefully we built the center," he said, "so it can be modified for future needs." • SPONSORED BY VERIZON WIRELESS SCAN THIS QR CODE with your smartphone for the full research report TOPICS INCLUDE: Digital government: A boon for information sharing? DOD lays the foundation for better sharing Justice program emerges as model for info sharing ID management: A promising new development Time to get serious about information management To learn more, visit: www.gcn.com/InformationSharing2 Information Sharing Special Report