Somebody Else’s Problem? Usability in Ship Bridge Design Seen from the Perspective of Different Maritime Actors
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionTransNav, International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation. 2022, 16 (4), 685-700. 10.12716/1001.16.04.10
ABSTRACT: Navigation is a complex interaction between human, organizational, environmental, and technological factors on the ship’s bridge. Today, ships bridges include a broad suite of equipment with both digital and analogue interfaces, covering a range of functions and purposes. Suboptimal usability in equipment and interface design as well as layout of the ships bridge has been reported by researchers for decades. This paper aims to contribute to our understanding of why there has been limited progression in usability in ship bridge design over the last decades, by investigating the stakeholders’ different perspectives of their influence, interest and responsibility for usability in ship bridge design. The study is based on interviews with seafarers, shipowners, equipment manufacturers, shipyard, insurance companies, classification societies and a flag state. Usability in navigational equipment and systems on a ship’s bridge is required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) SOLAS Regulation V/15. We find that this goal-based requirement is challenging to follow up both in design, development, and survey work. To achieve usability in maritime equipment and bridge systems ideally requires the actively involvement of end-users throughout the design and development process. We find that the seafarers, the direct end-users, do not have a clear voice in the ship bridge and bridge equipment design and the associated purchasing processes. The other stakeholders appear to recognize the existing shortcomings, and some do show interest in improvements, but the responsibility for usability seem to be fragmented, and they see the potential solutions as being somebody else’s problem. We conclude by suggesting both long-term and a short-term way forward for improving usability in ship bridge design.