Critical Systems Engineering
for Socio-Technical Systems

Critical Systems, i.e., systems whose failure either endanger human life or cause drastic economic losses, form the technological backbone of today's society and are an integral part in such vastly diverse industrial sectors as automotive, aerospace, maritime, automation, energy, health care, banking, and others. The Interdisciplinary Research Center on Critical Systems Engineering for Socio-technical Systems addresses critical systems, which rely on synergistically blending human skills with IT-enabled capabilities of technical systems to jointly achieve the overarching objectives of the system-of-systems. We focus on instances of such socio-technical systems in the transportation domain, where the overarching objectives are to achieve safe and green mobility, through cooperative semi-autonomous guidance of vehicles with humans in the loop, such as in their roles as drivers, operators, navigation officers, flight controllers, etc., and consider two industrial sectors key in Lower Saxony, the automotive and maritime domains. Such systems are safety critical – human errors, technical failures and malicious manipulation of information can cause catastrophic events leading to loss of life. Creating sufficiently precise real-time mental or digital images of real-world situations, and assuring their coherence among all involved actors (both humans and technical systems) as a basis for coordinated action is a major challenge in socio-technical system design. This calls for constructive approaches involving intuitive and scalable patterns of cooperation, between humans and technical systems, seeking for a balanced sharing of tasks best matching both the abilities of humans and technical systems, or between technical systems. It calls for insights in understanding humans in their interaction with technical systems. It calls for layered approaches in aggregating information along both spatio-temporal and cognitive dimensions. It calls for robust and adaptable designs, seamlessly catering with adverse and changing environmental conditions. It calls for executable and composable models of socio-technial systems, both humaa and technical, allowing to adaptively, as it were, "zoom" into detailed levels when reaching critical states to provide fine-grained views of the actual interactions, as well as the need to aggregate to coarse views in order to cope with the sheer complexity of such models.

Integrating highly visible research at the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg in safety critical systems, neurosensory systems, and maritime systems, and foreseen research in its newly founded European Medical School, the center for critical systems engineering of socio-technical systems will create a university-wide long-term shared research strategy and build an interdisciplinary research team covering systems engineering, cognitive psychology, human-machine interaction, dependable system design, security engineering, embedded systems, networked and distributed control, distributed sensors systems, and health-state monitoring. With its partners OFFIS, DLR, and SafeTRANS it integrates deep application know-how, strong industrial networking guaranteeing high industrial impact, and a unique demonstration platform for future mobility solutions, AIM. Through its Think Tank, the Interdisciplinary Research Center on CSE will set up this shared research strategy. Through its projects, it will identify possible solutions and pave the way for a leading position in acquiring large-scale projects targeting identified innovation gaps. Through its living labs it will demonstrate the high potential of its scientific achievements. Through its college it will foster scientists capable of acting as mediators and catalysers for innovation in this highly interdisciplinary field. With the boost in visibility stemming from the establishment of the Interdisciplinary Center for Critical Systems Engineering for Socio-technical Systems, the site Oldenburg will achieve a poleposition in winning strategic proposals both on the national and European level within its scope.




Prof. Dr. Werner Damm



Lars Rölker-Denker