Insights



Preventing human error even in TV control rooms

There have been lots of examples recently of the impact of human error in control rooms especially in the US.   However, there are implications even in non-safety critical control rooms such as in TV broadcasting.  It seems sometime ago now that ITV bungled the World Cup football going off to an ad break whilst England were scoring one of their few goals in the...

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Can we do without traffic signals?

On the face of it the idea of removing traffic lights from junctions seems crazy.  Surely chaos would result with regular accidents. This experiment near Bristol suggests that maybe it can work – since the trial started they’ve seen a reduction in congestion despite an increase in traffic…with almost no accidents. There is of course an interesting issue of driver education & training – for...

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Runaway train underlines importance of operator-centered design

Runaway train underlines importance of operator-centered design

The recent incident with the run-away maintenance train on London Underground underlines the importance of designing control rooms around the needs of the operators.  The information that has surfaced (www.railnews.co.uk/news/metro/2010/08/19-leaked-video-shows-49-second.html) show how the operators were able to avoid the incident becoming a disaster by clearing the path ahead of the runaway.  This required them to exercise all of their skill and training. But it also...

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New uses for railway stations

New uses for railway stations

We’ve talked in this blog and in press articles about the potential for using station buildings or buildings near station for community or commercial uses – in part to promote better security by having more activity going on in or around the station. And here is a great example from Edge Hill station in Liverpool where a disused building in the station has been put...

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The problems with alarms

Following on from the discussions on the events in the BP control room, we spotted this piece in the New York Times which serves as a timely reminder of the problems of nuisance alarms and excessive alarm rates.   As Human Factors professionals and control room designers, one of our most common tasks is to persuade engineers that not every alarm need to be presented...

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The reality in control rooms when it all goes wrong

For those of us working in the control room design industry it is often easy to forget the reality of what happens to the operators when it all goes wrong and disaster happens. For a reminder, read this account of what happened in the control room when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded – http://tinyurl.com/3ahwsxo


Can good architecture influence behaviour?

Can good architecture influence behaviour?

Can the good design of buildings actually influence behaviour? There seems to be a body of evidence from the education sector that it can certainly reduce negative behaviours. Providing an environment that is enriching, that is human, that people want to care for and has been considered to remove opportunities for unwanted behaviours seems to be key. This feature recently on the BBC highlighted some...

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Augmented Reality in manufacturing

Augmented reality is already starting to permiate into consumer products – the advent of the iPhone and Blackberry with in-built GPS, cameras and compasses is allowing applications to know where you are and what you are looking at and layer over relevant information to the scene. However, we’ve been more interested in how this technology can be applied to the working environment and business solutions. ...

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Tube station training & simulation facility

Tube station training & simulation facility

The rail industry in the UK has long been on the slow side at investing in training & simulation facilities.  So it was most welcome to see the development of a new facility for Transport for London to simulate tube station operations (as reported in the Evening Standard) Counter to the argument put by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, on-the-job training can rarely equip staff with all...

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The external image control rooms can give…

The external image control rooms can give…

The news channels have all been covering the further deepening of the crisis at BP – the latest being the photoshopping of the images of the control room dealing with the leaking oil well to make it look like they were busier and that the photos were taken more recently it raises the question of to what degree should control rooms be designed to give...

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