Operations Centre
and Computer Centre

Operations Centre

Many gigabytes of data are transmitted every day – from the monitoring stations; to the International Data Centre (IDC) and from the IDC to Member States. This amount of traffic needs some level of control and management.

The Operations Centre at the CTBTO takes on this task by monitoring all data traffic which includes incoming data arriving via satellite links from the stations, automatic data processing, as well as data dispatched to Member States One of its responsibilities is to ensure data quality and timely data availability In some ways this is the heart of the CTBTO.

The CTBTO’s Operations Centre monitors all data traffic and ensures data quality and timely data availability.

In the Operations Centre with its large wall-mounted monitors, staff observe data coming in from all stations of the International Monitoring System (IMS). Some of the screens show the progress of automatic processing of data from waveform technology stations, i.e. seismic, infrasound and hydroacoustic. Different colours signify the status: arrival, data masking, which is a process of assessing the usefulness of data for further analysis, and missing data.

A separate screen shows the connections to auxiliary seismic stations. These stations send data on request only. Again, colour coding provides an immediate overview of the status.

Any failure in data transmission is analysed and a troubleshooting process is initiated to address the situation.
The IDC Operations Centre was upgraded in 2014 to feature new monitoring tools and screens.
New features include radionuclide analysis software, Atmospheric Transport Modelling and live measurement of incoming station data, currently around 10 GB/day.

While monitoring the flow of information from monitoring stations, the Operations Centre also keeps an eye on the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI). This widespread and mostly satellite based network forms the backbone of data transmission to and from the International Data Centre.

Every significant interruption in data flow is addressed. The reasons for a failure in data transmission can be diverse, ranging from technical malfunctions to power outages and even animal activity, such as rodents eating cables or cable insulation.

Incident reports are generated and a train of events is set in motion to troubleshoot the situation and take corrective action. An investigation of an incident always starts backwards, meaning that staff will first look at possible reasons for a data outage at the receiving end, the IDC, then consider the transmission layer, the GCI, and will then contact the station to obtain additional information.

Staff at the Operations Centre provide the initial phase of troubleshooting and incident categorization. They make the first diagnosis of the cause of a failure and if needed contact the station operator for details.

When necessary, Operations Centre staff pass problems on to experts in the fields of IMS stations, GCI, or automatic processing. This process is known as escalation. When a team approach to problem solving is needed, the team meets in an escalation room located adjacent to the Operations Centre in order to obtain the latest information while leaving the Operations Centre undisturbed.

Operations Centre cont.

The communication between monitoring stations and the Operations Centre works in both directions. The Operations Centre may contact an IMS station to clarify a question. In the same vein, the Operations Centre is a focal point for station operators on all matters relating to station operation.

The Operations Centre plays a key role in ensuring that high quality and reliable products of data processing and analysis are made available to the Member States in a timely fashion.

The Operations Centre is a contact point for IMS station operators on matters relating to station operation.

Computer centre

IDC computer centre, Vienna, Austria.

A global alarm system performing highly sophisticated data monitoring operations, data processing and data analysis needs an equally sophisticated computer centre. In August 2005, the newly built computer centre of the CTBTO started operating.

The computer centre is vital for the CTBTO to carry out its verification responsibilities. It hosts all CTBTO computer systems and communications equipment, including all the computers for data processing. Also, it stores all monitoring data, raw and processed, as well as all data products.

The computer centre stores all verification data and data products.

The computer centre houses over 200 servers with disk storage capacity of over 100 terabytes - that is 100,000 gigabytes – for verification related data processing. In addition, a Mass Storage System of comparable storage capacity is employed to archive all Treaty verification data. Continuous upgrades are made to meet the ever increasing demands for processing capacities and storage space.

More than 40 kilometres of network and electrical cables were laid in the construction of the 254 square metre computer centre, with long stretches of cable running under the raised floors. Air-conditioning units keep the mean temperature between 19 and 22° C, reducing the heat generated by all the equipment housed in more than 30 large computer racks.

The CTBTO’s computer centre hosts all computer systems and communications equipment. It also stores all monitoring data and all data products.

A high level of data availability is an essential consideration for the work of the computer centre. To prevent any loss of data, the centre maintains several levels of redundancy and its own emergency power supply.

Over 300 detectors provide information on the status of the computer centre. These sensors register access and movement of personnel in the computer centre, as well as smoke, water leakage, temperature and humidity. In case of any disruption of normal operations, malfunction or unauthorized access, an alert system is in place to address the situation. In the case of a fire, detectors will trigger the automatic release of fire suppressant chemicals and activate an alarm with the Viennese fire brigade in a matter of seconds.

Next Chapter:
Distribution of data and data bulletins to Member States