Interdisciplinary Design and Evaluation of Dependability (INDEED)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Informatics


Computers increasingly play vital roles in organisations - e.g., hospitals or factories - which thus become computer-based systems . The dependability of these systems is a major societal concern. In response, EPSRC funded the Dependability Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (DIRC) between City, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Newcastle and York universities. DIRC was based on the premise that dependability must be studied not as a purely technical issue, but as a socio-technical property of the combination of a computing system with the environments in which it is procured, developed and used. DIRC thus assembled a world class interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists and statisticians, which has achieved substantial results through a rare degree of collaboration between engineering and social sciences.INDEED will build on DIRC's results to address important challenges in extending these results and combining them with current practices, to ensure a real, long-term impact on the design and evaluation of dependable systems. It will apply a multidisciplinary approach in four major research activities:Timing and Structure. This work will further develop DIRC's time band concept for reasoning about processes that unfold on different time scales, from microseconds to days, within a system. We will define an appropriate descriptive language, and extend it to deal with probabilistic relationships between events in different time bands. We will then build a software tool to use in case studies, to validate the use of time bands in structuring dependable systems. Adaptation and diversity. This activity will help designers and assessors of socio-technical systems to address some of the hard problems caused by the difficulty of predicting how people adapt to computers. We will give designers greatly enhanced abilities to analyse quantitatively, control and exploit the phenomena of adaptation and diversity, which although often recognised in informal terms need more thorough and formal treatment. Our focus will be data-rich, knowledge intensive activities that are increasingly supported by automation.Responsibility and trust. Inappropriate allocation or perception of responsibilities, and inappropriate levels of trust in the various system components, are important causes of failure in computer-based systems. This work will support the modelling, management and analysis of responsibility and trust during the design and deployment of such systems, by developing the necessary notations, techniques and software tools.Confidence and Uncertainty in dependability cases. A case is the web of evidence and reasoning through which system dependability is assessed. DIRC defined confidence-based cases, which describe dependability claims together with the degree of confidence that can be had in them. We will produce methods for detailing and structuring cases, using the results of work on time bands; guidance for using more diverse evidence and arguments towards increasing confidence; new interdisciplinary understanding of the factors causing people to trust a case less (or more) than its contents warrant.These activities are integrated into a coherent programme of work. An integration mechanism is the use of real-world case studies where we work with our partners in the project (Voca, British Energy, CAA and Qinetiq) to challenge and validate our research.


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Anderson S (2012) Emerging Technological Risk

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Asnar Y (2011) Organizational Patterns for Security and Dependability From Design to Application in International Journal of Secure Software Engineering

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Felici M (2012) How to Trust A Model for Trust Decision Making in International Journal of Adaptive, Resilient and Autonomic Systems

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Wei K (2013) Modelling temporal behaviour in complex systems with Timebands in Formal Methods in System Design

Description Our main focus was on the nature of risk in socio-technical systems and the role of trust in systems and the risks that are exposed by trusting behaviour and how trust can mitigate some risks. This was mainly an interdisciplinary task to synthesise the social science literature on risk and trust with the technical literature. The main consequence of this are a shift in the way designers assess risk and mitigate those risks.
Exploitation Route The main influence is on the design process in the design of socio-technical systems where the system is deeply embedded in the organisation. Our work highlights new classes of risk and suggest some approaches to mitigating those risks in design.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The work has informed our interactions with Health and Social care and was instrumental in working closely with NHS 24 in Scotland to develop the Digital Health Institute Innovation Centre that has just launched. We worked closely with QuinetiQ on a couple of small projects to look at our approach to risk in the development of their approach to security. In association with our partners at City University Indeed contributed to dissemination to the Finance sector around Risk in socio-technical systems
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services