An Introduction to Human Systems Integration (HSI) in the U.S. Railroad Industry
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An Introduction to Human Systems Integration (HSI) in the U.S. Railroad Industry

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  • English

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      Final Report
    • Abstract:
      Human systems integration (HSI) is a systematic, organization-wide approach to implementing new technologies and modernizing existing systems. It is a combination of managerial philosophy, methods, techniques, and tools designed to emphasize, during the acquisition process, the central role and importance of end-users in organizational processes or technologies. This approach optimizes the safety and efficiency of these systems through the consideration of all the system’s elements. Traditional approaches to technological implementation focus on mechanical, hardware, and software design challenges. Often, little attention is paid to the end-user and his/her capabilities and limitations. An assumption is made that the introduction of the technology automatically will be acceptable to the users and will improve job performance. This does not always hold true. The safety and reliability of new and modernized technologies and systems ultimately depend on their interaction with end-users—operators and maintainers. Even the most sophisticated technologies, when designed and implemented without proper consideration of user needs and requirements, may not achieve optimal system performance because of mismatches between the technology and human operator limitations or capabilities. To help achieve optimal overall system success, the human operator should be viewed as a central part of the system. Careful evaluation of an operator’s interaction with a system during its initial design eliminates potential mismatches downstream during the system’s implementation and operation. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is interested in introducing HSI to the railroad industry to help railroads further improve the safety and efficiency of their operations. An HSI approach to railroad technology acquisition and implementation can increase user acceptance of the technology, increase usability of the technology, and increase the likelihood of successful technology deployment. Investing in a systems approach to technology acquisition and modernization can provide a return on investment that is both tangible (e.g., cost savings) and intangible (e.g., improved labor relations). Over time, U.S. railroads have incorporated individual elements of an HSI approach (e.g., user testing, consideration of training requirements, etc.) into the acquisition of various technological systems. The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction of HSI concepts to the U.S. railroad industry and stimulate discussion of an HSI framework that can support railroads’ technology acquisition processes, since it is in these processes that railroads have the ability to economically and efficiently specify system requirements and most successfully implement technology.
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