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Situational Awareness

Category: Term of the day

Situational awareness (SA) is the mental representation and understanding of objects, events, people, system states, interactions, environmental conditions, and other situation-specific factors affecting human performance in complex and dynamic tasks.

In terms of cognitive psychology, SA refers to the active content of a decision-maker's mental model or schema of his or her ongoing task situation, its purpose being to enable rapid and appropriate decisions and effective actions. Achieving and maintaining SA involves the acquisition, representation, interpretation and utilization of any relevant information in order to make sense of current events, anticipate future developments, make intelligent decisions and stay in control.

SA is now a key concept in human factors research, aviation, command and control, and indeed in any domain where the effects of ever-increasing technological and situational complexity on the human decision-maker are a concern. Having complete, accurate and up-to-the-minute SA is considered to be essential for those who are responsible for being in control of complex, dynamic systems and high-risk situations, such as combat pilots, air traffic controllers, emergency responders, surgical teams, military commanders and the like. Lacking SA or having inadequate SA has consistently been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error.

Sergyi Way

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