Advanced (mobile) information- and communication technology in control rooms

The rapid introduction of ICT in the occupational world poses research questions regarding their usage advantages and disadvantages. In industries with increasing automation and in advanced traffic facilities and energy plants mobile information and communication technologies are increasingly used (smart phones, PDAs, notebooks, mobile measurement and diagnostic devices, etc.), providing new ways of interaction like touch and swipe gesture control, speech input or digital documents and media files exchange. Especially in the working context it is important, when employing these technologies, to examine how the work organization, exchange of information and the communication together with the cooperation between colleagues can be designed in a positive way, optimized in terms of strain.

We address the topic of “Stress and strain of control room operators when using advanced interaction concepts and mobile ICT” on behalf of the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health BAuA. The project is part of a larger BAuA research program, in which potential hazards in control rooms arising from advanced ICT are investigated. The program aims at deriving required work design modifications. Of special interest in our project are novel communication technologies which support control room operators to exchange information on system status, maintenance works, etc. with their colleagues on site in the plant.

In the project stress and strain are analyzed and a catalogue of design recommendations and measures for task and work organization when using advanced ICT is derived. Emphasis for this research is on usefulness and usability of novel work equipment and its acceptance by employees. It is planned to cooperate with different types of control rooms in a variety of domains.