Alert! 21 - Too much information
Throughout the last 20 issues of these Alert! bulletins, we have emphasised the importance of the human element to the safe and efficient operation of any ship, not least the need for communication between all stakeholders to ensure that the ship is ‘fit for purpose’;
that the requirements for a safe and secure working environment, decent working and living conditions, fair terms of employment and a healthy lifestyle for the seafarers are fulfilled; and that the seafarers are provided with the right resources for their education, training and career development. All of this serves to ensure the ultimate objective of the safe conduct of the ship and the safe and timely delivery of its cargo.
Fundamental to the successful design and operation of any ship is the importance of relevant, timely and accurate information and feedback.
Information management is about the storage, processing, transmission, input and output of information. Today, much of this is undertaken by way of Information Technology (IT) - the application of computer, communications and software technology for the management, processing and dissemination of that information. But, we should not forget that there is also a human element to every information management system.
In the maritime context, information management can take a variety of forms, ranging from: the simple, but vitally important, verbal exchange of navigational safety information between the team on the bridge, and a plethora of information sources available to them to assist with the safe conduct of the ship and the protection of the environment; machinery control and surveillance, and the gathering of data for analysis with a view to improving system performance and controlling emissions; crew administration, education, training and welfare; feedback processes for improving ship and system design, training and health and welfare onboard; and even the gathering of the facts for investigation purposes in order to determine the circumstances and causes of an accident with a view to preserving life