One of the major rail networks in the UK approached Mimagroup, a leading ergonomics design company, to redesign their control room layouts. During this process, Mimagroup identified an opportunity to improve the situational awareness for oncoming shift staff by creating a novel way of visualizing past and ongoing incidents and approached Parallel to conceptualise this idea.
A typical problem
Mimogroup's engagement highlighted a common issue among incident management teams and senior stakeholders: a silo mentality. With 12-hour shifts and an average of 250 minutes to resolve issues, team members had limited visibility of each other. These factors often led to difficulties during handovers to oncoming staff, potentially causing a loss of situational awareness and delays in incident resolution.
A typical problem
To address these challenges, we envisioned a range of displays for different user groups. For the geographical incident teams (referred to as "pods"), we wanted to provide an emotional glimpse into the pod prior to starting the work shift. This would allow for better mental preparation and help answer questions like:
"Am I entering a stressed environment? Are there loads of incidents, or is it more slow-paced?"
For the central teams, we wanted to visualise all current and recently resolved incidents to provide a better understanding of what was happening at any given time. This would help them understand exactly how many incidents there are, at what level, and who has made what decisions. Finally, for the senior team, we wanted to create a "god view" of all current and past incidents. This would provide oversight over all incidents and their interdependencies between pods, enabling the optimisation of incident management orchestration.
An incident clock
We developed the concept of an "incident clock" to visualize all the incidents for the past 18 hours, including both resolved and ongoing issues. The visualization adopts a circular/spiral structure based on a 12-hour clock face, allowing for an intuitive understanding of duration and start/end times. The incident clock has three levels of severity: red, amber, and yellow, with green reserved for any resolved incidents. Each incident management team received its own incident clock, as they were spread across different locations.