Software safety issues in the maritime industry, and challenges related to human computer interfaces. Theoretical background and results of a survey among equipment suppliers, yards and classification societies in four European countries.
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This thesis concerns the safety in user interfaces. In particular it concerns the user interfaces in systems in which safety is critical. I have studied such systems in the maritime industry, where we for instance may find them on the bridges of ships. Computer systems get more and more important in the daily routines of humans, and it is important that this does not go unnoticed. Designers of computer systems need to take human factors into consideration when designing their systems. These considerations might be especially important in complex systems, as these are often safety critical. The bridges on ships are likely to include complex systems for the operator to handle, as they often involve multiple screens, or other factors that increase the complexity of a system. Such factors might include being able to pay attention to several incidents at once. When dealing with complex systems, it is important that the operator knows how to handle the system, and also how to react when an incident occurs. These are factors that need to be considered by the designer when making the system and theories on how to do this are described in the thesis. I have also described standards which consider this, like the ISO 11064 standard, or the Atomos regulation and the ISO 17894 which considers this for the maritime industry in particular. Parts of the industry have made an effort to develop tools to be used to improve the safety. I have studied some of these efforts and presented them in the thesis. Furthermore, I have developed a survey to study how the individual members and different parts of the industry feel and behave towards safety. The survey gave an insight into reality of how safety is being handled in the industry as a whole. In particular it pointed to the main problem of the maritime industry, that the industry is very heterogeneous, and also that the different parts of the industry are in competition with each other. Most of the respondents had not heard about the Atomos regulation or the ISO 17894 standards, efforts that could have been used as a tool to improve the level of safety. The questionnaire also showed that while most of the respondents are satisfied with the level of safety in their organization, they are not satisfied with the level of safety in the overall industry. The thesis consists of six parts. Part I deals with the introduction and general theory from research methods and psychology. Part II deals with usability and related standards. These include ISO 11064, theory on usability and a description of an accident due to poorly designed user interface. Part III describes relevant background from the maritime industry, which involves the ISO 17894 standard, the Atomos regulation and e-navigation, an example of a newly made effort. Part IV gives a description of the development of my questionnaire, and also provides the results and conclusions made from them. Part V provides the conclusions and suggestions for future work, while part VI contains appendices.