Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Paperless Office

I’m still on vacation so I won’t be able to do the research I’d like to do on this but have a listen to the story I heard on the BBC radio.

BBC One Planet

Push the slider on the audio player up to the 15:00 mark and listen to the guy from Mircosoft tell you how we need paper. He has some unique thoughts on the subject. Well, perhaps “unique” isn’t the word I’m after. He finds better words than I do to express concepts that don’t lend themselves to words easily. Like when he talks about holding a book in your hand and knowing the totality of it. It’s the difference between holding CliffsNotes and War and Peace. It’s obvious. But it’s hard to explain.

The first thing that came to my mind was working a sector with 5 bays of strips. There are people that will never have that many airplanes pointed toward their sector. But trust me -- when it happens -- everybody in the room knows that sector is about to be in trouble. And they act accordingly.

Do you know what a URET sector looks like when 5 strip bays worth of airplanes due within 30 minutes? What does it look like to the guy sitting across the isle?

(For the uninitiated, 5 bays of strips is a ridiculous amount of strips on a radar sector. You don’t “work” it -- you get as many airplanes as you can away from the sector, stop departures or any number of things to get it down to a workable amount of airplanes.)

By the way, you might remember this quote:

” There were many extreme requirements, any one of which could undermine the successful implementation of a digital system. Here is a sample: ...replacing paper clearances with electronic notes, coupled with the complete removal of printers (the FAA was zealous about having a paperless system -- this system designed upon glaciers of paper). Deprived of old habits, the air traffic controllers would have no choice but to adopt new ones.“

Don Brown
July 29, 2010


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