In software-based systems, invalid input can create hindrances in the identification process resulting in the generation of an error message.
Software-based systems are designed to perform a specific function. A system is provided with a complete back end and front end details to execute programming without error. These systems sometimes require human intervention in form of inputs and in many cases based on the hierarchy of AI structure inputs are logically generated within the system for triggering a specific case scenario. Whenever the system is unable to understand an input it generates a communication error.
Scenario related to Air Traffic Control Environment
An air traffic controller is busy with traffic. While performing duty he has to coordinate with a specific unit. He or she approaches the Voice Communication Control System and he or she touches two tabs simultaneously as a mistake on screen and an error message appears. The error message appears in the form of a prompt. Although the system is smart enough to avoid such errors. Still probability exists that a system may not understand.
Whenever a software based system is designed for the general public or professional, care is taken to ensure provision of interface regarding all functions it can perform. These interfaces are created to support interaction between user and the system. Sometimes excellent systems are developed but there remains a shortcoming in terms of the number of interfaces that can be provided. Instead of making all functions available to the user in the form of an interface some of the functions are left. This scenario creates a frustrating condition for the user and this can also be considered as a communication error. The main reason behind such communication errors exists in manual loading of functional icons one by one.
Now let us stretch further imagine a system has been designed well enough and a complete interface has been provided. But due to multiple reasons the interface starts showing errors. Let us move back to the air traffic environment. An Air Traffic Controller is trying to click on the send button to disseminate estimates using ATS Interfacility Data Communication. As per normal perceived operation the send button is required to be pushed for sending information to the receiver. But when it is pressed to send it also closes the AIDC window which is not the requirement of the process. And later it is determined during coordination with the adjacent Flight Information Region that the message was not received although the message appears in the display of the ACC unit responsible for sending the message. This is an example of a communication error.
There are multiple reasons for Communication errors to occur some of them are listed below
Communication Error Due To Improper Software Designing
During the development of software as a result of shortcoming in quality assurance the interface icon is not properly named or an incorrect functionality is being used at the back end. But the probability of such error to occur in present time for AI based sophisticated tools is very rare. The reason for it exists in the fact that rigorous and extreme quality circles are being used before finalization.
But one factor that can be normally seen is presence of an urge for a complete easy to understand interface for the users. Even if we are going to take examples of software systems being used in Air Traffic Service, some of the functionalities are linked with complex selection or interaction methods. For instance in order to create a restricted area an air traffic controller has to mark its boundaries. This requires proper sequencing of exact coordinates within a system utilizing designing tools.
Normally it has been seen that the interface for it is not provided in a user friendly way. Moreover there are a number of drop downs and complex selections involved with limited designing functions. Apart from it the format for coordinates is normally of specified standard even a little variation is not accepted. So if a wrong input is inserted it will show an error message or it will not respond. For example there is an input field called date but there is no proper guidance about the date format that the user should use.
Let’s for instance assume the required format is DDMMYY and user insert date in format as MMDDYY. As a result of this invalid input an error message appears. This will be a communication error which was not defined properly.
Communication Error Due to Lack of System Integration
In the Air Traffic Control Service Multiple Complex systems are interconnected with each other. ICAO has been pushing a lot of emphasis on system interoperability. Due to lack of system interoperability sometimes two systems are unable to communicate with each other effectively because of which communication error is prompted.
Administrator testing communication between Controller Application Server and Database
In air traffic control services, down time is like a nightmare. Systems like Voice Communication Control System are required to work on continuous bases without facing any down time. But we all know that Air Space structures used to get changed with passage of time. And as per requirement by ICAO the names of significant points are required to be changed at specified intervals of time. These changes are connected with safety of the air traffic. But at the same time this restructured air space is required to be fed in the database of the ATM.
The system is sometimes required to be off the air due to such purposes for a very short period of time. Similarly imagine a separately designed application database that is linked with ATM for retrieval of air traffic data from ATM. Sometimes due to fluctuations or multiple other reasons the database is required to be rebooted. After covering the down time due to multiple reasons a communication error appears.
In order to perform routine functions it is mandatory for the application server to have proper interaction with the database. Or in other words there should be a complete flow of communication between server and database. The lack of communication is detected when the administrator is testing the availability of communication parameters between controller application server and the Database Administrator tries to configure as well as monitor network infrastructure of a datacenter.
Preventive measures against communication errors
The prevention of such errors exists in careful designing of a system. An Algorithm based communication error detection technique should be utilized for identification in real time. Based on this fact we can conclude that apart from careful designing prevention is based more on management commitment. Even though such systems are gone through rigorous quality checks and provided with assurances. System specialists should be involved in purchase decisions of such systems.
And this team should also be accompanied with users of the technology so as to confirm and experience all the aspects of the system before making a purchase decision. A system should be selected not just based on functionalities but also on the basis of a user-friendly complete interface.
Moreover, care should be taken to ensure architecture of the system to be based on the latest ICAO requirements for interoperability. So that system integration issues won’t be confronted and as a result communication errors can be mitigated.
ATSEP should look at the communication error message generated to have a first idea about possible solutions.
Try to identify the communication trace that was sent on the communication medium. As sometimes you can have some idea about probable reasons from the data that has been transferred.
Setting up an administrator is the one of the most effective ways of ensuring consistent communication between the server and required database server. Administrator keeps on testing the communication path between the Server side application and database.
ATSEP should look for the third party firewall if installed to confirm if the problem is not related to it. They can simply check by disabling it to see if data flow has resumed as required.
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