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Participatory Architectural Change Management in ATM Systems

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Innovative participatory platform set to change air traffic management

Changes to air traffic management (ATM) systems can have many effects. An EU initiative sought to better understand, model and analyse changes at different layers of the ATM system to support change management.

Digital Economy
Transport and Mobility

Understanding all possible consequences of a design decision in an ATM system is a challenge due to its complexity and the existence of tight interdependencies within its architecture. “Knowing the implications of change over the whole system is crucial to supporting decision-making,” says project coordinator Prof. Paolo Giorgini. “At the same time, it’s also key to ensuring that the ATM system doesn’t suffer from any lack of functionality, safety, security, performance or cost efficiency.” The EU-funded project PACAS set out to support change management while capturing how architectural and design choices influence the overall ATM system. “Since decision-making involves high-level objectives, the change management process needs to involve multiple ATM domain stakeholders in order to explore a vast space of alternatives,” notes Prof. Giorgini. Given the variety of experts, different areas of expertise and geographical locations, participatory change management requires user engagement and tools to support and facilitate their work. Gamification draws user engagement To address user engagement, gamification was used with the help of elements such as leader boards or challenges between users. A multi-perspective, model-based approach provided important tools and benefits by allowing the analysis of individual perspectives. To find optimal solutions, the approach handled complexity through automated reasoning techniques in a transparent manner. “The platform is complemented by a participatory change management process, which defines the roles and how they are to be engaged in collaborating in the decision-making process,” Prof. Giorgini explains. The change management process takes into account the team and group dynamics when participating in a long decision-making process. Participatory decision-making is important because it helps explore more perspectives and a larger set of alternatives by involving different experts. PACAS customised the process to reflect the roles from the ATM domain that are involved in a decision-making activity. This was done to allow for easier adoption as part of ongoing and future projects. “The gamification elements proposed in PACAS take into account a characterisation of the roles involved in the decision-making process,” says Prof. Giorgini. “We have shaped the game mechanics and elements so that they may help foster collaboration and keep engaged a wider audience representative of the roles in PACAS.” Shaping elements in a long process “Psychological and organisational factors are also taken into account, such as group dynamics, to shape elements such as paths and challenges, which are crucial especially in a long decision-making process,” he adds. “We have refined these to make them more professional, and this is a first step towards the application to real work settings.” The multi-view modelling approach proposed in PACAS doesn’t only facilitate the work of different experts who use various modelling languages. It also provides support so they can communicate and have a common understanding of the problem without speaking one another’s language. The PACAS platform has been tested within the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR). SESAR is the technological pillar of the Single European Sky initiative and aims to improve ATM performance by modernising and harmonising systems through the development and deployment of innovative solutions. “PACAS is proving to be potentially useful for supporting the design of new operational concepts and technologies being developed within SESAR,” concludes Prof. Giorgini. “We’ll explore the possibility of a follow-up project with a twofold purpose: to improve the PACAS tools and at the same give support to other ongoing SESAR projects.”


PACAS, change management, ATM system, gamification, SESAR, air traffic management

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