Human factors experts ensure safer e-navigation
New e-navigation solutions presently being developed in the EfficienSea2 project aim at making ships more efficient and are further improved by human factors expertise.
When ships sail in areas like the Baltic Sea, they use different systems to collect and share essential information for navigational purposes. However, it can be quite a challenge to keep an overview, and there is a risk that vital information is overlooked.
Furthermore, the crew has to report and fill in paper forms with ship information to different stakeholders such as VTS’s and ports – an administrative and often repetitive task.
Challenges like these are the focus of an EU-sponsored project, EfficienSea2, driven by a great number of naval organisations and led by the Danish Maritime Authority.
One electronic access point to informationThe purpose of the EfficienSea2 project is to develop e-navigation solutions making it easier to collect and exchange information electronically among ships and between ships and shore. For this purpose, a web-based platform, called the Baltic Web, has been developed to integrate and test the different e-navigation solutions. This platform serves as an electronic access point to the e-navigation solutions and by now holds a variety of services, e.g.:
- Maritime safety information
- No-go areas in the Baltic Sea
- Ship Reporting System
- Route optimisation
- Vessel information
Tested by human factors experts
The great advantage of the Baltic Web platform is that navigators will be able to collect and share all relevant information from one system. But how will the e-navigation platform work in real life when used by the crew?
To answer this question, FORCE Technology’s experts within applied psychology and human factors have been assigned to conduct usability and proof of concept tests. In collaboration with Chalmers University, our experts evaluate the mariners’ experiences with the platform and test if the e-navigation solutions could be optimised regarding usability, efficiency and safety.
“The main focus in our job is to optimise the usability of products and services from a human factors perspective. In the EfficienSea2 project, our expertise is used to make sure that the technical development of e-navigation solutions matches human perception, cognition and behaviour as well as the actual user needs,” says Jeanette Juul Jakobsen, Human Factors Specialist at FORCE Technology.
Eye tracking captures important learnings
During the project, the human factors experts will e.g. examine how mariners act when using the new e-navigation solutions while planning a route – and they will explore what happens when mariners use the solutions in a simulated navigation scenario.
To support the experts’ observations of the group, the participants are equipped with a GSR tracker, which can indicate stress levels, as well as eye-tracking glasses that video record what the participants are looking at and their exact eye movements. By these means, it is possible to determine exactly what the persons are focusing on as well as their physiological responses.
“Eye tracking is an excellent way of capturing a huge amount of data neither biased by the observers’ perspectives nor the participants’ self-reports. This type of data provides us with detailed information about the user’s attention in the situation being tested, e.g. what information is seen and what is not. By combining eye tracking with GSR equipment, it is also possible to extract data about the mariner’s emotional responses to the use of e-navigation providing the development team with improvement inputs that are based on concrete user behaviour and reactions,” Jeanette Juul Jakobsen explains.
The eye tracking study is conducted in June 2017. All the captured data are examined thoroughly afterwards, and the feedback to the development team will improve the e-navigation system accordingly.
Background and facts:
- FORCE Technology has expertise within human factors and conduct studies in a variety of domains such as healthcare, retail, transportation and medical devices.
- Working with human factors is a methodology where knowledge about human behaviour is used to optimise products or services to make them more user-friendly, efficient and match the way humans behave and function.
- The EfficienSea2 project is led by the Danish Maritime Authority and has 32 dedicated partners from 12 countries in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. Danish Maritime Authority manages the project.