How can a dispatcher’s workplace be optimized?

Hint

bachelor thesis | expert system, workspace | user experience, interface | 2017

Challenge

A dispatcher carries a great responsibility for people and technology in daily train operations: The dispatcher observes and controls an assigned section of the route. In particular, irregularities and disturbances are high stress situations: As a node and he must manually intervene in case these events occur on the tracks. The workplace currently has up to 10 screens. How can a dispatcher’s workplace be optimized? A special challenge will be to understand the system’s expertise and to simplify the complex work processes without losing functionality.

Approach

The work was created with the support of train dispatchers from the Munich operations center. By reconciling initial assumptions, it was possible to gain quick access to the problems and requirements of the dialogue group. In particular, weaknesses of the system were easily identified through interviews conducted with dispatchers just starting their careers . A crucial component of a Dispatchers role is their communication, in addition an inclusive analysis of their environment was also included. Initial solutions were implemented through prototypes, which were tested with the users and further developed iteratively.

We got into the subject through interviews with train dispatchers and apprentices, as well as in our own practice with a teaining system. Bit by bit, we came to to the bottom of the processes and it's problems.

With the development of paper prototypes first ideas were visualized and tested. During the process, these were refined and digitized. Furthermore, various technologies have been used to input information on their usability.

Result

Hint is a system for controlling and monitoring railway traffic, which supports the user with intelligent hints. The system is designed to reduce the current system of 10 monitors to a single widescreen monitor. The system components are based on the current system, but have been optimized through a redesign of the information architecture and a hierarchical restructuring of the elements based on user research. The dispatcher can assess situations quickly, take preventative measures and act safely in extreme situations.

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