Discussion : From factor to vector, a quantum transition in assessing safety in ATM systems

J. A. Stoop

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorScientific


Recently, several major events in various high tech industries have revealed deficiencies in assessing safety at a systems level. Conventional analytic approaches in the operational phase suffer from paradigmatic limitations. In non-plus, ultra-safe and complex, dynamic systems, such as Air Traffic Management systems, safety requires a new approach in which: - Safety is a strategic value in decision making and business modeling.- Safety is a system property, represented by state/space vectors.- Safety assessment focuses on quantifiable dissimilarities between various system states and operating conditions throughout their life cycle phases. In order to cope with non-linear interactions and interventions, firstly, safety has to be integrally designed into the system and assessed as an inherent property before it can manifest itself in practice as an emergent property. Secondly, engineering design methods have to be mobilized, such as forensic engineering, value and knowledge based engineering and resilience engineering. The design of safer systems should apply a non-linear design methodology, with an integral assessment of all values and performance requirements, including safety. Such a predictive, quantifiable assessment includes simulation, prototyping and dissimilarity measurements. Finally, system adaptation should focus on the functional level, inherent system properties and synchronization of event vectors and system state vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Dissimilarity measuring
  • Forensics
  • Safety
  • State/space vector
  • Value engineering


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