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A few false alarms go a long way

NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

We all know that false alarms degrade the value of an alarm system and operator performance, but how many does it take? A recent study found that at a 25% false alarm rate, operators behaved as if they had no alarm system at all (Meter, J., Wiczorek, R., Gunzler, T., Measures of Reliance and Compliance in Aided Visual Scanning” Human Factors, 56.5, (2014) 840-849). In the same study, they found that failure of the alarm system to detect a problem did not degrade the operator's reliance on the system. This study would argue that it is better to forego an alarm if it would potentially become a nuisance.

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