Conference Paper

In search for common ground: how an automatic turbine system supports operator work.

DOI: 10.1145/1473018.1473039 Conference: ECCE 2008 - The Ergonomics of Cool Interaction, European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics 2008, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, September 16-19, 2008
Source: DBLP

ABSTRACT Motivation -- The use of automation technology tends to steadily increase in a wide range of applications. With this comes a demand to design systems that support team play among human operators and automation to avoid problems related to monitoring work. Research approach -- The study was performed as a field study using semi-structured interviews and observations. Findings/Design -- The initial interview and observation results indicate that generally accepted research in the field of human-automation interaction is valid in the studied nuclear power control room context. The work shows the benefit of studying human joint activity to improve interface design that supports human-automation collaboration. Take away message -- Further research in the area of human-automation cooperation in control rooms is needed. A possible way for development of a design basis is to examine human-human cooperation and extract useable design guidelines.

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    ABSTRACT: A fundamental challenge in studying cognitive systems in context is how to move from the specific work setting studied to a more general understanding of distributed cognitive work and how to support it. We present a series of cognitive field studies that illustrate one response to this challenge. Our focus was on how nuclear power plant (NPP) operators monitor plant state during normal operating conditions. We studied operators at two NPPs with different control room interfaces. We identified strong consistencies with respect to factors that made monitoring difficult and the strategies that operators have developed to facilitate monitoring. We found that what makes monitoring difficult is not the need to identify subtle abnormal indications against a quiescent background, but rather the need to identify and pursue relevant findings against a noisy background. Operators devised proactive strategies to make important information more salient or reduce meaningless change, create new information, and off-load some cognitive processing onto the interface. These findings emphasize the active problem-solving nature of monitoring, and highlight the use of strategies for knowledge-driven monitoring and the proactive adaptation of the interface to support monitoring. Potential applications of this research include control room design for process control and alarm systems and user interfaces for complex systems.
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