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Socio-Technical Systems


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Luca Sabatucci
Engineering socio technical systems: technical and social aspects

CNR-ICAR SE Seminars
29/05/2012, Palermo, Italy

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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Socio-Technical Systems

  1. 1. Socio-Technical SystemsLuca Sabatucci 29/05/2012 – SE Seminars – Palermo, Italy
  2. 2. The ACube Project A monitoring system for nursing homes connected to the environment through a distributed sensor networks and actuators.• Multidisciplinary nature: – software engineers, sociologists, analysts – end-users involved in the process• Technology: – Operate in complex scenarios and to be able to recognize, analyze and support complex physical and social processes. – Highly technological, autonomous and self-configurable. – Adaptation capabilities to fit different environments and users• Non Functional Requirements: – Low Intrusiveness – Acceptance – Privacy
  3. 3. DESCRIPTION Func Req with Visual ScenariosEMERGENCY MONITORING AND PREVENTION – FALLS/3 the sensor on the door sends a signal to Maria is leaving Sabrina’s PDA that the room alerts with a vibration Restoration Maria is going upstairs in room - order to reach her room. RSA. 01:50 She falls in the staircase. pm. Maria is getting up from sofa. Caregivers The camera are not identifies the aware of event and this event sends signals A vibration alerts to caregivers’ Sabrina that PDA. Maria’s leaving When Sabrina and POSSIBILE Gianna ends their CADUTA day shift, they must SCALE 1° write a report, butPDA displays PIANO they find a alreadythat an compiled reportunknown describing the event occurred in theperson is fallen afternoon. They adddown in the information andstaircase validate thebetween information automaticallysecond and collected by thethird floor system The nurse, Gianna, receives this signal Video, audio sensors and PDA automatically send collected data and succour Maria. She notifies by PDA to the system that builds the daily that she is taking the event in account. report.
  4. 4. A demo is available at:
  5. 5. Design Challenges • The core problem is not technological • No clear-cut separation from the “software” and the “physical” world • Central role of People – Identify real needs and integrate them into the design. – Users must easily push their preferences into the system execution. • AmI and Society – Law compliance: effects of existing laws and new laws trying to regulate this new reality – Adaptability to the evolution of users’s needs and organization changes.Walter Van de Velde. Ambient Intelligence and Beyond. European Commission DGInformation Society and Media Future and Emerging Technologies
  6. 6. Socio-technical systems SLIDE BY IAN SOMMERVILLE Fitting software to the organisation. 2008• A socio-technical system is a system that exists to serve some organizational purpose. It includes: – Computer – Software – Business processes – Organizational rules and regulations – Human operators• Examples: – A system to support admission and discharge of hospital patients – A system to support purchasing in a company
  7. 7. What STS is not• Traditionally “technology” is perceived as some kind of monolithic entity hidden in the environment• Technical people believe that – People will follow processes – Users are all the same – Design is about meeting requirements rather than providing an efficient and effective system• In many projects, developers never meet or observe the users of a system
  8. 8. STS - Premises• Socio-technical systems focus on the social and technical together rather than consider technical issues in isolation.• Design should take into account how social and technical factors influence the Socio-technical systems functionality and usage of STSs. Laws, regulations, custom & practice System Business users Software intensive system processes Organisational culture
  9. 9. Key Features• Based on a pragmatic acceptance of the world as it is, populated by differing and imperfect people• Global Properties (that are not the sum of parts), e.g.: – acceptability, – familiarity, – trust• Not deterministic• Their success depends on the stability of human goals – Process evolution – Changes in working practices – Changes in the organization Ian Sommerville
  10. 10. Gap between Social and Technical• Years of research have demonstrated the importance of STS issues on the success or otherwise of large organizational systems• This gap seems a major problem facing social software today (Ackerman, 2000).• Value-centered computing counters this gap by rounding software more on social aspects (Preece, 2000).
  11. 11. Digital Products Need Better Design Methods• Most digital products are built from an engineering point of view• The result of these approaches is, unfortunately, software that irritates, reduces productivity, and fails to meet user needs.• Software too frequently The user has failed again assumes that its user is computer-literate.
  12. 12. Designing STS• A new development process requires systematic approach to considering: – How STS issues affect the system requirement, use and evolution – Understanding people in the context where they live and work – Balance users needs with business goals, social values and technological capabilities – People should be involved in designing the relationships between technology and work
  14. 14. Fieldwork• Systematic observation of work in the context where the work is performed• The aim is to develop a rounded understanding of the details of how the work is done and the contextual influences on the work
  15. 15. Participatory Design• Requirements are not well-defined entities but should be collaboratively negotiated during the whole design life-cycle• Requirements are constructions produced by a number of actors (users, analysts, developers , designers) each acting in specific context
  16. 16. Starting from needs often is not possibleIf I’d asked my customers what they wanted,they’d have said a faster horse. Henry Ford
  17. 17. Design passes between different semantic communities We need to improve our service..and to decrease … we should improve our costs algorithms and infrastructures to recognize events, We need to situations, activities.. assure patient assistence, support, Family, support, privacy, … ..human contact
  18. 18. STSs quickly evolve• Requirements for STS do change overtime• Why changes? causes by a variety of factors: – the operational environment • e.g. new or alternative technologies or new usage conditions – the organization within which the system is used • e.g. new organizational structure and procedures, new regulations – user’s needs • e.g. new functional features, new class of users as well as new users’ preferences or ways of doing things 18
  19. 19. Socio-technical systems are striving to become the next grand challenge in ICT research
  20. 20. • SOCIONICAL is an Information and Communication Technologies Project funded under European Seventh Framework Programme (FP7),• aiming to develop modeling, prediction and simulation methods for large scale socio- technical systems.• the technical components of the system are not just passive mediators of human interactions (e.g. like the in Internet in social networks)• but are active, situation aware participants in the interaction.
  21. 21. Disaster/Emergency Scenario
  22. 22. Transportation Scenario
  23. 23. Thanks