“Seafarers should be navigating by the stars”: barriers to usability in ship bridge design
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionDanielsen, B.-E., Lützhöft, M., Haavik, T. K., Johnsen, S. O., & Porathe, T. (2022). “Seafarers should be navigating by the stars”: barriers to usability in ship bridge design. Cognition, Technology & Work. 10.1007/s10111-022-00700-8
Navigating a ship is a complex task that requires close interaction between navigators and technology available on the ship’s bridge. The quality of this interaction depends on human and organisational factors, but also on technological design. This is recognized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) through the SOLAS V/15 regulation that requires human factor considerations in bridge design. The objective of this paper is to investigate how tensions between the main stakeholders’ interests and perspectives in ship bridge design may influence the achievement of the goals set forth in the SOLAS V/15 regulation. This objective is explored through a qualitative study in the maritime industry, involving seafarers, shipowners, and equipment manufacturers. We find suboptimal ship bridge design usability to be connected to structural characteristics of the maritime sector, where different aims and perspectives between core stakeholders impairs alignment with respect to conception of work-as-done in the operative environment. We also find that profitability is a major driver for the blunt end stakeholders, for whom the relation between usability and profitability is perceived as a trade-off rather than of synergy. We conclude that there is a need to develop processes, enablers, and management tools to (1) update the understanding of the professional competence needed in the technology dense work environment on ship bridges today; (2) strengthen the maritime stakeholders’ awareness of the advantages of human-centred design (HCD) which are both operator well-being and system performance; (3) enable implementation of HCD into existing design and development processes; (4) provide metrics for business cases enabling informed ergonomic investment decisions.