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case 1: automated metro – challenge for operative control and user acceptance?

In the Helsinki metropolitan area, the efficiency of transportation is in the future seen to be achieved by implementing an automatically operated metro system. This study aims at supporting the design of the metro system by providing knowledge of human practices in complex environments. We study two significant issues: How to improve operator work in the supervision and control of the automated operations? Is the automated system an acceptable traffic service and environment?

Automatic operation of the metro increases efficiency of transportation by allowing short intermissions between trains, shorter trains and smaller stations. Our study focuses on defining what is the concept of operations, level of automation, allocation of responsibility between human and technology, operator tasks and teamwork (control room and field operators) that facilitates safe and dependable operations. We study what modes and forms of presentation improve communication of information from the dynamic system to the operators and facilitate common awareness of the functioning of the system among the personnel. We also study what are the characteristics of user experience of automated metro and how the efficiency and dependability of the system are conceived by the users. In this case we aim to develop methods to study user experience of complex systems and to improve the usage of human factors knowledge in design decisions and evaluation of technologies.


case 2: managing multiple devices in mobile information work

Present-day information work is characterized by the proliferation of digital devices, ranging from desktop PCs and laptops to various types of handhelds. Moreover, diverse I/O devices exist, such as keyboards, mice, displays, printers, and projectors, as well as accessories like cables, adapters, docking stations, and storage media. The challenge for information worker is to carry out collaborative action efficiently despite the work group being dispersed and mediated through different technologies. The tasks that are influenced by this include division of labour, access to remote resources, consultation and opinion formation, and particularly the various forms of collaborative productions of near time-space such as meetings, invitations and the like.

We use the term multi-device management to refer to all actions oriented toward one’s set of information devices, carried out with the purpose of securing preconditions for work. When a poor device management strategy is adopted, extraneous physical work results. Conservative strategies, while saving cognitive effort, lead to extraneous manual work elsewhere. The material properties of devices and connectivity are foregrounded in multi-device management. This case studies how multi-device management intertwine with substance work. Analysis will be carried out on multiple levels ranging from the actions of an individual worker packing, configuring and utilizing her devices all the way to the level of the organization making decisions about the work equipment, work spaces etc.

case 3: time-critical decision-making in control centre of a large-scale event

The control centre in a rally is responsible for two tasks: keeping the rally in schedule and making sure that driving is safe both for the audience and the drivers. It communicates with the represen-tatives at the rally track who observe the settings from a helicopter, from safety cars and from rally managers who have positioned themselves in nodal locations on the rally track. This information – along with a GPS map of rally car positions – is assembled and integrated by and for workers. In normal conditions safety can be ensured.

Studied phenomena: Problems arise when a competitor drives off the track or a spectator is reported to have e.g. a sunstroke, or there is anything that requires re-organisation of the routes, for example to secure a route for ambulance. The information about the precise accident location is often very imprecise initially but gets more precise when more information arrives from the field. The news and this information starts a shared problem solving activity in which the whole control centre solves best ambulance routes, communicates with the relevant authorities, and manages overall safety of all parties. The problem here is the distributed nature of skills, information, and other resources, the efficient use of which must be planned, decided, and coordinated in the face of uncertainty and limited information. Situations like these occur 4-5 times during a day.