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Technology & ScienceSociety

Transport control rooms

These projects study collaboration and co-ordination in transport control rooms which include centres for managing road and rail traffic. We have undertaken a series of projects concerned with the analysis of a wide range of transport control rooms. In particular, we have undertaken video-based field studies of control centres and in London Underground and Transport for London.

These studies have contributed to contemporary research in organisational studies, on communication and collaboration, and human-computer interaction. The issues addressed by the research include:

  • the knowledge and reasoning that enables operators to identify problems and difficulties despite the limitations of the various tools and technologies they have at hand;
  • how staff make others aware of issues and problems, often by tacit and inexplicit practices, for example how they get others to notice problems without explicitly telling them;
  • the ways in which operators deploy organisational solutions that necessitate coordinating the activities of staff within the wider environment;
  • the resources on which operators rely to coordinate the activities of staff based in various locations across the network and the fragility of communication and cooperation.

Our studies have:

  • provided a detailed analysis of the user and organisational requirements to inform the development of the innovative tools and procedures. This involved case studies of transport operators and, including video-based studies of work and communication at different organisational levels, as well as interviews with staff and management;
  • contributed to the evaluation of on-site demonstrator technologies.
  • provided guidelines for future development and deployment of the tools and processes for co-ordination and control.
Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigators