Distributed situation awareness in dynamic systems: theoretical development and application of an ergonomics methodology

Ergonomics. 2006 Oct;49(12-13):1288-311. doi: 10.1080/00140130600612762.


The purpose of this paper is to propose foundations for a theory of situation awareness based on the analysis of interactions between agents (i.e. both human and non-human) in subsystems. This approach may help to promote a better understanding of technology-mediated interaction in systems, as well as helping in the formulation of hypotheses and predictions concerning distributed situation awareness. It is proposed that agents within a system each hold their own situation awareness, which may be very different from (although compatible with) that of other agents. It is argued that we should not always hope for, or indeed want, sharing of this awareness, as different system agents have different purposes. This view marks situation awareness as a dynamic and collaborative process binding agents together on tasks on a moment-by-moment basis. Implications of this viewpoint for the development of a new theory of, and accompanying methodology for, distributed situation awareness are offered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness*
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Models, Psychological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Organizational Objectives*
  • Social Support*
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Theory*
  • User-Computer Interface*