[SystemSafety] Meta

From: Les Chambers < >
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 12:06:42 +1000


Hi

This is a call for help. I'm on the hunt for a federated metadata registry for hazard analysis. Does such a thing exist? Or is anyone aware of the work being done in the area.

A quick Google has not uncovered anything generic. Work is being done in medicine: "A federated semantic metadata registry framework for enabling interoperability across clinical research and care domains"

 ... And some papers exist discussing the concept in particular domains: "A Traffic Accident Detection Model using Metadata Registry"  

But so far I have been unable to find a web resource covering basic meta data frameworks for describing things like hazards and hazardous events. It seems to me this could have been a benefit in the case of the Boeing 787 batteries. Over the years I've developed databases to store application-specific hazards. They have taken the form of hazard logs.

Taking the 787 batteries as a case study, a restricted vocabulary with
<tags> such as:

<domain> aviation

<aircraft type> Boeing 787

<component type> battery

<component subclass> large-format lithium-ion

<energy storage capacity> > 2 kW-hr

<hazard> internal short circuiting and the potential for thermal runaway

<hazardous event> fire, explosion, and flammable electrolyte release

<probability> high

<severity> high

<known incidents> Boeing 787 APU battery fire at Boston Logan

<risk reduction techniques: design> design review,

<risk reduction techniques: manufacturing> detect foreign object debris
(FOD) generation during cell welding, manufacturing quality control

<risk reduction techniques: operational> battery monitoring sensors,
jettison battery capability

... might be a good idea.

If you boiled down some of these massive incident reports to the absolute bare bones as described above, someone might actually read them and benefit. As another example I attempted to read the Queensland Government report on the failure of the Queensland Health payroll system. It was a $4,000,000 document written by lawyers. Frankly I didn't make it to the end. I became disillusioned because it lacked insight and any credible suggestions on corrective action and future risk reduction. Predictable because how could a lawyer who has never developed a complex system even know the right questions to ask.  

Hazard meta data seems like an obvious idea. It seems to me that a large portion of our community is focused on looking back on what did go wrong. Perhaps that is because hindsight is easy. Getting funds to reflect on a disaster is also easy. In contrast navel gazing over what could go wrong is hard and so is obtaining funds. But imagine what could be achieved if we used this information to look forward and predict what might go wrong on the basis of past history. This is hard. In hazard analysis sessions it has been my observation that the people doing this work are often rear echelon types with little operational experience while the people with operational experience are often not present or ignored. A federated database based on an agreed meta language would be a fantastic resource to support safety into the future.  

BTW if you haven't spent time in the meta world this article is an excellent primer:

http://www.niso.org/publications/press/UnderstandingMetadata.pdf  

Cheers

Les  



Les Chambers
Director
Chambers & Associates Pty Ltd
 <http://www.chambers.com.au> www.chambers.com.au

Blog: <http://www.systemsengineeringblog.com/> www.systemsengineeringblog.com

Twitter: <http://www.twitter.com/chambersles> _at_xxxxxx M: 0412 648 992
Intl M: +61 412 648 992
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