The Future Railway Control Room: A Practical Framework for Control Room Design Practices
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Socio-technical domains with control rooms, such as the Railway Industry, currently face a gap between the implementation of rigorous user-oriented design and the pace at which digitalization is required. Research has shown that quantitative Human Factors research techniques through investigation of constructs such as Situation Awareness, can be useful, if not essential, to user-oriented control-room design processes. This thesis consists of two parts, the first of which is a conceptual framework based on a literature review, that focuses on the interplay between different aspects of control room design and shows how these aspects could be reconfigured to enable more user-oriented control-room design. The second part of this thesis is a case-study, which aims to investigate the advantages of integrating quantitative, Human Factors techniques into the control-room design process by demonstrating the usefulness of a select range of quantitative, human factors, research techniques. Building on this conceptual framework, the study asks, what is the plausibility of integrating quantitative human factors techniques into usability research in control rooms? Based on a review of various quantitative situation awareness measuring techniques, a simulation with an existing and a novel interface for train traffic controllers was conducted, and quantitative data was collected to assess various metrics through eye tracking, interval popup queries and a series of self-report questionnaires. Analysis of the ascertained data indicates that eye-tracking measures are representative of situation awareness when looking at associations with self-report and probe query measures. The results demonstrate that quantitative, human factors research techniques are useful in the context of control room design and should be implemented more extensively. Given the results of the case study in the current thesis it is recommended that future research further investigates associations between quantitative research techniques such as eye tracking measures and probe query measures which assess situation awareness dynamically when investigating control room design.