Safety Stops! How Technology and Human Factors Impact Communication in One Picture

The Volant team is such a dedicated and communicative group. They send me stuff all the time that I might be interested in, including interesting pictures that are relevant to our topics.

This morning I got a text from Rich Mackey that included the following image: V__89B2I got this about an hour and a half before my alarm went off.  And obviously well before I had a chance to caffeine up. It’s a picture of the board used on the outside of an airport gate, used to communicate to pilots and ground crews. In addition to things like the time, gate, and flight number, there’s often a little message – but that message usually doesn’t discourage safety!

For about twenty minutes I mulled this over: Safety Stops!

I brushed my teeth, did my hair, made some tea, all why wondering “Safety stops? Why would safety stop? Why would you tell any of the crews to stop safety. That’s the top priority for any airline. Safety stops! That’s just weird. And why make it an exclamation?”

Eventually I checked my phone again and saw that the message Rich sent had, in fact, contained two pictures and together they made a lot more sense.

The phone had arranged the pictures from most recently taken to least. And my sleep-addled brain had not realized there was more than one picture in the grouping. Technology and human factors had conspired to not just prevent me from receiving the message in a timely manner, but actually made me think that the message was the exact opposite from what was being conveyed – that the crews should make sure that they were using their equipment to keep things safe.

Today it’s a humorous little story about images, but tomorrow technology and human factors could work together in a whole different way to increase my Risk and vulnerability to disaster. So it’s nice to get a little reminder that I need to slow down and pay a little better attention in the coming days.

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