Ecological Collaborative Support System for maritime navigation teams

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Vítor Fernando Plácido Da ConceiçãoRafaela MarquesPedro ÁguaJoakim Dahlman

Abstract: Maritime navigation is a demanding and complex domain that involves risks for people, the environment, and economic activity. The tasks associated with its execution require advanced training, expertise, experience, and a collaborative Navigation Team. Furthermore, naval operations demand higher readiness, accuracy, and resilience due to additional constraints. The response to these challenges has been integrating further automation and information systems. However, the effectiveness of innovative trends had been questioned by recent naval accidents like those involving the US and Norwegian naval ships.In bridge crews, collaboration is progressively more dependent on technological means since they are the information sources, and team members need to share and exchange different information formats besides audio. Furthermore, the increasing number of control functions and information systems required to strengthen the bridge situational awareness came with an additional cost to human operators. Therefore, navigation teams need further assistance in this challenging context to achieve a consistent and coherent situational awareness regarding the integrated systems in use, comprising technological and human agents' activities. The proposed solution under development is a Collaborative Decision Support System (C-DSS) fitted to the vessels' bridge systems requirements to reduce the cognitive workload, enhance collaboration between team members and information systems, and strengthen team situational awareness and sensemaking.Several studies addressed the need to provide enhanced interfaces with higher levels of abstraction representation, adjusted to the changed role of human operators, easily adaptable; improved collaboration between humans and automated agents, and superior information integration from internal and external environments. The most critical property of interfaces is to simplify the "discovery of the meaningfulness" of the problem space. World's representation should include the relevant and critical elements tailored to the task, augmenting the interaction experience, increasing the decision-making skill, and assisting the discovery of significant phenomena. The used methodology was an anthropocentric approach to innovation - design thinking. The process was performed with five phases: empathy, definition, idealization, prototyping and tests. Interface design prototypes were made with Mockups, covering the following several team roles. Usability tests, questionnaires and interviews were applied to validate and assess the C-DSS. Five focus group tests were made iteratively, with fifteen SMEs, twice with navigators, and once with SMEs from the other role, three in each iterative evaluation test, with a 1.5-hour duration. Following a snowball selection principle, participants were recruited from the Portuguese navy with the organization's guidance to ensure that all participants had an extensive seagoing experience.At the current stage of the C-DSS development, the results indicate significant potential for interface strategies. Results show that end-users would like to have the C-DSS, considering it innovative, friendly, easy to learn and with the information they need. The usability test allowed us to correct and improve numerous user interface design issues. The main difficulties maintained in terms of usability were related to recording data. The envisaged C-DSS is fitted to the vessels' bridge systems requirements embracing several prerequisites like being portable and customizable, enabling goals and priorities' management, logging performance and behavioural data, sharing different information formats, supporting information synchronization, providing situational awareness information about the system and operators.This study contributes to the understanding of the collaborative decision-making process in navigation teams through two objectives: first, systematising the main difficulties and challenges and, second, presenting a desirable solution, possible from a technological and financially viable point of view. The developed prototype has four distinct graphic interfaces, that complement each other and are oriented to the context of the user's role, based on the continuous contribution of target users, that is, elements belonging to navigation teams. The contributions allowed an improved understanding of the problem, idealise the solution, and improve the C-DSS, from design to insertion and adaptation of new functions.In the validation process of the prototype, it was found that the experts would like to use the C-DSS, stating that they would have greater autonomy and, even so, would be able to make an exceptional contribution to the team. Finally, the design thinking approach provided a basis for continuous feedback from end-users, becoming a twofold benefit by triggering new ideas of possible solutions to be deployed onboard.

Keywords: Naval, Navigation, Human Computer Interface (HCI), Bridge, Human Factor

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1004124

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