What is it like to research control rooms? A few challenges.

Interesting posting on researching control rooms from Rachael Gordon. I like the way in juxtaposes both the functions of control (which seems partial and limited) room (which seems obviously centralised, heavily augmented) and controller (who draws on those systems and collective attention and decision making) with the partial and fragmented work of the researcher.

Governing Emergencies

While sorting through a few files the other day, I came across some photographs (see one below) I took during my first period of research in a control room back in 2010. I spent six months here observing the work of traffic operators who were responsible for monitoring and managing the motorway and trunk road network of the West Midlands region to facilitate safe and reliable traffic flow.

The motivation for going into this setting stemmed from an initial research interest in transport and specifically personal experiences of using urban transport networks to get around. It was while I was accompanying travellers on their journeys for a project on everyday mobilities that I began to unpack the components that facilitated the journey. I started to think about what actually made these journeys happen, crucially, in spite of the routine troubles we encountered – train breakdowns, infrastructure repairs, service suspension, ticket…

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