Human-centred design for maritime technology and organizational change
Doktorsavhandling, 2018

Context: The shipping industry is undergoing a transitional phase at different levels, including IMO’s e-Navigation initiative, and with this comes the need to use a human-centred design (HCD) approach to avoid accidents linked to automation issues, and to cater for the maintenance of safety and efficiency within this global transport system.
Aims: The aim of this thesis is to investigate the value and challenges in HCD practice and how ergonomics/human factors (E/HF) principles can be introduced, as well as what gaps and opportunities exist in current standard operations and technologies in navigation that can potentially be followed upon by future e-Navigation developments, not only from a technological perspective but also regulatory, operational etc.
Methods: This thesis derives from the work of six appended articles that mainly utilized a qualitative approach to data collections, including focus groups, interviews and observations, and to data analyses, such as narratives and a grounded theory approach. In total, two design teams and four separate sets of onboard and shore-based operators were consulted for data collection.
Results: The results from the appended papers suggest that user involvement in design as well as in rule making and purchasing of new ship equipment was perceived as important for a good work environment, and efficient and safe operations onboard in this safety-critical industry. The results show that design projects are situated experiences that involve complex tasks and resource management, and that require re-iterative adaptations throughout the process. In involving the users and implementing E/HF methods, support from the management is needed and professional E/HF expertise should be a part of the team to help interpret E/HF methods and guide the process to foster continuous knowledge sharing within the team, the organization and with the users from an early stage. When investigating current operations and technologies in navigation, it was evident that gaps exist that can be improved by the redesign of current technologies or the implementation of novel e-Navigation solutions. For example, there is a large number of unintegrated systems and information sources today, and everyday routines and information across geographical areas and communication channels are not unified. Technology concepts and developments towards the e-Navigation principles have been considerably debated, yet there are still gaps that can be filled, and despite e-Navigation’s principle for HCD, the holistic – macro – perspective of the development of these new technologies seems to be under-exploited.
Conclusions: Filling the existing gaps with available novel technologies is not enough to guarantee efficiency and safety in the domain, nor to guarantee acceptance. A more systemic perspective is needed, of how the different people and processes in the sea transport system can be affected by the introduction of new technology in terms of how work is performed, of regulations, new training and re-skilling, as well as of preparation for new issues that may arise with increased automation such as workload and cyber-security. This work points at the value and practice of E/HF and systems-driven design, and directs it at change makers and opinion leaders: designers, managers, rule-makers, educators, to consider the human element for safety and efficiency. In this transitional stage, one of the great values of E/HF is to more proactively prepare the shipping industry for the ongoing e-Navigation changes rather than having the industry adapt operations, regulations, training and plan the sustainability of the transport system ad hoc after technology implementation.

participatory ergonomics

organizational change

technology acceptance


systems theory


human-centred design

Blacken, 3rd floor of SAGA Building, Hörselgången 4, Chalmers Lindholmen, Gothenburg, Sweden
Opponent: Associate Professor PhD Ole Broberg, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark


Nicole Almeida Costa

Chalmers, Mekanik och maritima vetenskaper, Maritima studier

Perceived success factors of participatory ergonomics in ship design

Occupational Ergonomics,; Vol. 12(2015)p. 141-150

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

A case study of user adherence and software project performance barriers from a sociotechnical viewpoint

Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Software and Systems Engineering. AHFE 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing,; Vol. 787(2019)p. 12-23

Paper i proceeding

Implementing human centred design in the context of a graphical user interface redesign for ship manoeuvring

International Journal of Human Computer Studies,; Vol. 100(2017)p. 55-65

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Identifying gaps, opportunities and user needs for future E-navigation technology and information exchange

Stanton N. (eds) Advances in Human Aspects of Transportation. AHFE 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 597. Springer, Cham,; (2018)p. 157-169

Paper i proceeding

Non‑technical communication factors at the Vessel Traffic Services

Cognition, Technology and Work,; Vol. 20(2018)p. 63-72

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Costa, N. A., Jakobsen, J. J., Weber, R., Lundh, M., & MacKinnon, S. N. Assessing a maritime service website prototype in a ship bridge simulator: Navigators’ experiences and perceptions of novel e-navigation solutions

This thesis is addressed to change makers in the maritime domain. As in other industries, the maritime domain is undergoing a technological transition of increased digitalization and automation. However, a change in the maritime domain must occur on a global level, as it is internationally regulated and affects a large percentage of the total world trade. This transition becomes then very complex due to the great number of stakeholders and variables in the global transport system. A challenge caused by the current technology push is that the domain is left with having to adapt to the changes ad hoc. This includes how the mariners and shore-based operators are supposed to work, how regulations are meant to incorporate the use of new technology, how people are to be trained and prepared for the new era of navigation, and overall how the transport system and the shipping community are to be affected. Human Factors – the study of human activity and interaction with other elements of a system to increase human well-being and overall performance – can bring great value to this technological transition and support the change makers to think more proactively and holistically about the large effects of incremental technology changes and where they might take the shipping industry. This thesis includes six separate studies, which contribute to better understand the practice and value of Human Factors and of a human-centred approach to the design of new maritime systems that are based on the needs of those who operate them.

Efficient, Safe and Sustainable Traffic at Sea (EfficienSea) 2

Europeiska kommissionen (EU) (EC/H2020/636329), 2015-05-01 -- 2018-05-01.

Crew-centered Design and Operations of ships and ship systems (CYCLADES)

Europeiska kommissionen (EU) (EC/FP7/313972), 2012-10-01 -- 2015-09-30.


Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi


Människa-datorinteraktion (interaktionsdesign)



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4448



Blacken, 3rd floor of SAGA Building, Hörselgången 4, Chalmers Lindholmen, Gothenburg, Sweden

Opponent: Associate Professor PhD Ole Broberg, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

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