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Work and Technology Use in Centers of Coordination: Reflections on the relationship between situated practice and artifact design
KTH.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The research problem explored in this thesis is how technology and work practice are related in coordinative situations (collocated and over distance). Further, the problem of how this kind of research results can be transformed and used in the development of new technology is discussed.

Air Traffic Control and Emergency Call Centers are the two domains where the complex process of coordination in a time and safety critical setting has been studied. The methodological approach taken in the field studies is ethnographic, a qualitative method with a descriptive outcome. Air traffic controllers focus on keeping the airspace organized so that the aircraft are separated at all times, as well as are given an economic route by e.g. slowing down so that they do not have to wait in the air for traffic ahead. In order to manage the control of the national airspace, it is divided into geographical sectors each of which is controlled by 1-2 controllers. The aircraft cross many sectors during one flight and each time they cross a sector border there is a handover of responsibility between the controllers. The controllers have a large number of tools that they orchestrate in order to maintain control and keep records of the orders given to the pilots. The situation in one sector has therefore been locally stored at their work position. It is shown in the thesis how the social interaction and the technology support are ordered to broadcast the locally stored information.

Emergency call centers at SOS Alarm are in contrast to the ATC centers fully computerized. The operators use CoordCom, a system that is currently in the process of being renewed. When a telephone call to the emergency number 112 is received in one of the 20 local centers in Sweden, a receiving operator initiates the case by interviewing the caller in order to categorize the incident. Often, an incident consists of a number of conditions that together make an emergency. It is shown that accountability of decisions and local knowledge of the center’s responsibility area are two important parts of coordination at SOS Alarm.

A question that has been of interest during the studies is what possibilities ethnographic observations provide when used as a starting point in a design project. The final study provided a description of how the ethnographic material from the emergency call center study was explored and transformed in order to create concrete functionality and design.

The thesis contributes with examples from the workplace studies of how people interact with each other through the technology and how skills, local knowledge and professional concerns shape the interaction. It also contributes with reflections on how descriptions and experiences of work practice and technology use in the field can serve as a foundation in shaping and designing new ideas and new functionality for future systems.

The papers included in this thesis shows results on four issues in relation to coordination and technology:

-Coordinative work practice and implications in using video/audio in a distributed setting

-Support for accountability in decision-making in a distributed setting

-The role of local knowledge and combined expertise in a local collocated center

-The transformation of ethnographic observations in the design process

The thesis also shows the importance of a further definition of the dichotomy of collocated and distributed work in order to inform technology. An analysis of the dichotomy based on the field study results is presented in the thesis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2005. , 83 p.
Series
Trita-NA, ISSN 0348-2952 ; 0536
National Category
Sociology Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12627ISBN: 91-7178-184-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-12627DiVA: diva2:451824
Available from: 2011-10-27 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The coordinative functions of flight strips: air traffic control revisited
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The coordinative functions of flight strips: air traffic control revisited
1999 (English)In: Proceedings of the international ACM SIGGROUP conference on Supporting group work, GROUP '99 / [ed] Stephen C Hayne, New York: ACM , 1999, 101-110 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Cooperation in time-critical and physically distributed worksettings, such as air traffic control, requires extensive coordinationbetween the involved actors. For this coordination to beefficient the controllers rely both on the comprehensive use ofrules and procedures, and on artifacts supporting them infollowing these procedures. At the Copenhagen Air TrafficControl Center this coordination is largely carried out throughthe use of a flight plan database system, paper flight strips, anda closed-circuit television system. In relation to the introductionof a new and increasingly automated system in the year 2003 this paper discusses the coordinative functions served bythese three, soon to be replaced, artifacts from a design perspective.Despite the skepticism expressed in previous research,our results show that a further computerization couldbe successful if the coordinative functions the system currentlyfulfills are properly preserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: ACM, 1999
Keyword
Air traffic control, flight strips, ccordination, closed-circuit television system, computerization, automation, CSCW
National Category
Computer and Information Science Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12622 (URN)10.1145/320297.320308 (DOI)1-58113-065-1 (ISBN)
Conference
Phoenix, Arizona, United States, November 14 - 17, 1999
Available from: 2005-10-21 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2016-09-19Bibliographically approved
2. Open audio/video links as means for coordination - two case studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Open audio/video links as means for coordination - two case studies
2004 (English)In: Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences / [ed] Ralph H. Sprague, Los Alamitos: IEEE , 2004, 295-304 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

From the multitude of workplace studies that we have seen during the last decades, it has been shown that a common environment to a large extent supports coordination of work. The use of common artifacts and awareness of the co-workers activities effortlessly afford communication of the current state of work. Inevitably, a question arises: how can we get similar support for distributed groups? One idea has been to use a continuously open video and/or audio link, i.e. a media space, to support the informal coordination possibilities that are lacking in a distributed setting. In this paper, two cases from air traffic control are presented, where the long-term use of video and audio links plays an important role for communicating real-time updates of the state of work. The possibility to overhear and oversee what the colleagues are doing in remote positions reduces to a large extent the amount of obtrusive and time-consuming phone calls. The features and the successful use of these so-called focused media spaces are discussed in this paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Los Alamitos: IEEE, 2004
Series
Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, ISSN 1060-3425 ; 37
Keyword
Air traffic control, Computer supported cooperative work, Decision support systems, Distributed computer systems, Real time systems, Remote control, Video conferencing, Voice/data communication systems
National Category
Telecommunications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12623 (URN)10.1109/HICSS.2004.1265076 (DOI)0-7695-2056-1 (ISBN)
Conference
Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Big Island, HI., January 5-8, 2004.
Available from: 2005-10-21 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved
3. Sense-making of an emergency call: possibilities and constraints of a computerized case file
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sense-making of an emergency call: possibilities and constraints of a computerized case file
2002 (English)In: Proceedings of the second Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction / [ed] Olav W Bertelsen, New York: ACM , 2002, 81-90 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Work in control rooms, or so-called Centers of coordination, challenges both humans and technology. The people working there have to be able to make quick decisions as well as be alert during less busy times. The work has to be coordinated within the group, since the operators are much depending on each other's work. This places special demands on the technology; it should be fast, trustworthy and easy to manipulate so that the complexity of the work is reduced.SOS Alarm is a company that is responsible for managing the telephone calls made to the emergency telephone number 112 in Sweden. The SOS operators receive, categorize, document, dispatch and monitor the incoming cases. This paper discusses SOS operators work; how they coordinate the information and tasks between them; how the technology supports that work. This study presents a fully computerized setting, compared to many other studies of centers of coordination that are not.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: ACM, 2002
Series
ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, 31
Keyword
centers of coordination, control rooms, coordination, CSCW, ethnography, ethnomethodology, time-critical work, workplace study
National Category
Telecommunications Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12624 (URN)10.1145/572020.572031 (DOI)978-158113616-6 (ISBN)
Conference
2nd Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, NordiCHI '02, Aarhus,October 19-23, 2002.
Available from: 2005-10-21 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved
4. Local expertise at an emergency call centre
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local expertise at an emergency call centre
2005 (English)In: ECSCW 2005: Proceedings of the ninth conference on European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2005, 347-366 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Some important research has been undertaken in recent years on knowledgemanagement within the CSCW community, drawing attention to the inherently socialproperties of knowledge and how it is shared. Much of this work has demonstrated thecomplex and sophisticated needs of so-called knowledge workers, and the requirementfor better understandings of knowledge sharing processes. The example we present inthis paper is that of knowledge work in emergency calls at SOS Alarm in Sweden, currentlyof interest because of a planned new system that will allow for centre-to-centrecase coordination and not only within the centre. What makes such a case interesting isthat workers in this context face an unlimited variety of incidents that require interpretation,decision and coordination, many of which require the deployment of local knowledgeand, as importantly, have to be dealt with in a timely fashion. In this paper we focus onhow a number of people work to combine their knowledge and expertise in a time effectiveway.

National Category
Telecommunications Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12625 (URN)10.1007/1-4020-4023-7_18 (DOI)000234208900018 ()1-4020-4022-9 (ISBN)
Conference
9th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Paris, FRANCE, SEP 18-22, 2005
Available from: 2005-10-21 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved
5. Transforming field observations into functions: on the use of an ethnographic study in the design process
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transforming field observations into functions: on the use of an ethnographic study in the design process
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Social Anthropology Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-12626 (URN)
Available from: 2005-10-21 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved

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