The importance of Human factors Engineering in the control room
Ultimately, a resilient grid requires both a fully-functioning, robust IT and OT infrastructure, AND highly trained, well-performing control room operators. Human Factors Engineering provides us a scientific basis for viewing operator performance.
In control room environments, the focus is on ensuring that operators have their attention drawn appropriately to needed content (and not away to unimportant content), that they rapidly and accurately process the needed content, and that they work well in high- and low-stress situations. To this end ResilientGrid owns the patent to a novel continuous performance test — a neuropsychological measure of visual attention — that focuses on low-level (information transmission from eye to brain), and high level (attentional mechanisms in the brain) factors. The resulting knowledge base from this test, which includes color schemes to maximize perception and processing, and the use of motion and hard boundaries to ensure that the most important information is the most perceptible, was used to design ResilientGrid Map. In situations where milliseconds may matter, human factors engineering is tasked to provide the operator with the information they need to be successful, as quickly as possible.
Operators working on shift may also be faced with several additional challenges: fatigue, boredom (after all, most critical infrastructure management isn't exciting until it suddenly is), and extreme stress. ResilientGrid's mission is to understand these risks, and design systems and training to help operators function at their optimal levels for as much of the time as possible.
Operators are known for an incredible grit and fierce dedication to the systems they've sworn to protect. ResilientGrid's human-centered design gives them the support to be even more successful at that job.
Human factors engineering takes lessons from psychology, sociology, anthropology, neuroscience, and a variety of other fields, and then applies engineering principles to achieve a desired outcome. For example, this could involve an operator trying to maintain their level of stress in "the middle": not too low, where low motivation, attention, memory, and situational awareness are a big concern, neither too high, where decisions tend to be made rapidly without considering all the factors.