The Use of Shared Display Aids to Promote Performance and Coordination within a Traffic Operations Center

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Industrial|Sociology, Organizational|Transportation




Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have been implemented as a means of reducing roadway congestion and thus the social and economic costs of traffic delays. Traffic operations centers (TOCs) that monitor and manage traffic are one example of such implementations. The present study is believed to be one of the first research efforts to investigate issues of team process, information display, and automation within TOCs. ^ The implementation of two shared display systems, a manual display system and an automated display system, within a TOC in the northeast US was evaluated based on principles of ecological interface design and social cybernetic theory. Each display system was evaluated in terms of its impact on overall TOC performance as assessed via objective traffic measures, and on operator workload, situation awareness (SA), team coordination within the TOC, and satisfaction with the display system as assessed via subjective operator survey responses. For each display system, data were collected for two weeks during weekday commute periods (defined as 6:30am-9:30am and 3:30pm-6:30pm). ^ Two-by-two multivariate analyses of variance were used to test the effects of display system and time of day on objective TOC performance measures and subjective operator ratings. No differences in TOC performance were found based on display system or time of day. Operator ratings of overall workload were higher with the automated display system and during the evening commute. A display system by time of day interaction was also found. Significant differences were also found in operator ratings of the individual workload components. Trend-level differences were found in overall operator SA, with overall operator SA higher with the automated display system. Operator SA of past traffic conditions was higher with the automated display system, and SA of future traffic conditions was higher during the morning commute. No differences were found in operator ratings of teamwork between the two display systems, however time of day differences were found. Operator satisfaction did not differ between the two display systems. ^ The present study suggests that principles of ecological interface design and social cybernetic theory can be used to understand why specific human factors design aspects of shared displays promote SA and benefit certain aspects of operator workload within control room settings. ^