Principles of workflow support in life critical situations

Document type: Licentiates
Full text:
Author(s): Jenny Lundberg
Title: Principles of workflow support in life critical situations
Translated title: Principer för arbetsflödesstöd i livskritiska situationer
Series: Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertion Series
Year: 2007
Issue: 02
Pagination: 1-98
ISBN: 978-91-7295-105-1
ISSN: 1650-2140
Publisher: Blekinge Institute of Technology
City: Karlskrona
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. of Interaction and System Design (Sektionen för teknik – adv. för interaktion och systemdesign)
School of Engineering S- 372 25 Ronneby
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: The prime objective is to investigate how technology and work organization can support the workflow in handling time critical emergency calls, having the prerequisites of giving the highest priority to saving human lives and minimizing the effects of emergency situations. The challenge is to maintain and improve the quality of service (QoS) during and after a proposed technology driven organizational change. This thesis is based on empirical work including extensive ethnographical studies of emergency call handling at Swedish Emergency Service Centres, SOS centres. Today the SOS centres are basically organized as independent centres. The proposed technology enabled organization concerns the contingency of handling emergency calls nationwide, in SOS clusters. One of the desired outcomes of this reorganization is that peaks and falls in the handling of emergency calls will be levelled out. It is assumed that any operator will be able to handle the call independent of the location of the emergency situation, opening up for a more efficient handling of incoming calls. In principle, introducing new information technologies enables this reorganization of SOS centres. However, the basic claim of our investigation is that a transition to the new organization has to take into account systemic requirements, to support a non-disruptive change.

The first of the three main results concerns essential aspects of technology based organizational changes. From the empirical work, we have concluded that the tasks constituting the workflows at SOS centers are conducted in parallel, and that the coordination of the tasks can be modeled using a risk-driven blackboard-based spiral model. We have also concluded that there is a rich face-to-face communication and body language situation within the centers supporting coordination of workflows. This coordination is context-dependent thus the means of creating awareness of the overall situation in the centre support the acquisition of important extra information in the specific case.

The second result concerns methods and models to increase the quality of the requirement specification process. The principal approach is to specify assessments and systemic requirements. Furthermore, issues such as how to validate empirically based workflow models, as well as how to measure groupware usability and how to support the information sensitive change are considered. Suggestions concerning methods and models that could provide means to that end are presented.

The third result concerns identification of relevant research and development challenges coupled with new insights about combining ethnographical approaches with system modeling. Identification and suggestion of suitable experimental platform design, enabling testing of service qualities, including a suggested role for agent technologies are presented.
Summary in Swedish: Utmaningen är att säkerställa och förbättra kvalitén i hanteringen av nödsamtal vid en eventuell förändring från enskilda SOS centraler till SOS cluster.
Subject: Computer Science\General
Computer Science\Effects on Society
Human Work Science\Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Keywords: SOS central, SOS cluster, kravprocess, information, QoS
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-00355