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Human Centered Computing
Human Centered Computing provides methods to determine WHAT to build, producing total systems that combine technologies with organizational designs. The central goal of HCC is to improve development and mission productivity, and reduce operational errors by developing tools and procedures that support teams in accomplishing their tasks.

Scientists working togetherRight: Scientists working with an information display system not designed to support their work.

Human Centered Computing is a fundamental capacity needed to develop the System of Systems that the Exploration Systems Program will need. The complexity of both the process and the product requires that the technology can support rather than impede the multi-generational work of this mission.

Research Overview
Human Centered Computing is a computer systems engineering methodology that uses a combination of methods from computer science, social science, and management studies to understand and model work practice, technology use, and technology gaps. Its objective is developing computer systems that fit human capabilities and practices by exploiting and improving AI programming methods. This includes:
  • Participatory design & partnership.
  • Participant observation, ethnography, video interaction analysis, participant interviews.
  • Total systems perspective (process, tools, organization, facilities).
  • Organizational learning/developmental perspective.
  • Incremental value (always doing something useful).
  • In situ evaluation, seeking to uncover broader implications.
Scientists at work Right: HMP Mars Analog Exploration.

Projects & Successes of HCC:
  • 12 days, 20 people, 3 NASA centers & 2 universities in simulated Mars Habitat.
  • Provides baseline date for modeling and designing technical, physical and social components of Moon and Mars habitats.
Mars Exploration Rover Science Ops Team Support:
  • Observed field tests and actual mission.
  • Provided real time input into design of supporting technologies, procedures, knowledge management for round trip data tracking and facilities design.
  • Baseline data and analysis for design of MSL '09 with distributed rather than co-located team.
Knowledge Management for Orbital Space Plane IVHM:
  • Review OSP requirements and proposals for HCC issues.
  • Design of Problem Reporting System.
  • Design of Procedures.
  • Design of Work Systems.
  • Design and Delivery of Training.
  • Contractual Provisions for Data Ownership and Data Delivery.
  • Software and Interface Design.
  • Ames has competence in work systems design, relating cultural issues to practices and tools through a total systems analysis.
  • We have a six-year history of direct participation in operations & work systems design at Ames, JSC, JPL, and in Mars analog settings.
  • We can add value to software engineering projects by supporting the multidisciplinary nature of design research.
  • We can help make a work practice study part of every mission operations design process, something NASA does prior to a mission, rather than only including it as part of our mission failure reports.
Although NASA produces astonishingly complex engineering feats, it lacks a methodology or process for requiring end-to-end work system design and testing. This has been noted by a number of investigations of past failures, particularly the CAIB report.

Data Tracking ProcessRight: MER Round Trip Data Tracking Aided by HCC Development of Consistent observation Naming Procedure.

Human Centered Computing is a software engineering methodology that assumes that useful software (and hardware) design requires an understanding of the total work system for any technology. "System" means both the technical environment of linked hardware and software, and the larger context of the social system of work practices, facilities, procedures, legal regulations and culture.

The central question is "How are these teams of people going to do this work, and what resources do they need to do it?" The answer involves information about computer resources, human resources, facilities for display, capture, archiving and retrieval of information, and even such apparently mundane questions as whether the design of a meeting room permits the team members to access the information necessary for them to do their jobs. Thus, the human centered computing approach starts with the people, and designs technology for them, rather than forcing them to distort their work to suit the technology.