Challenges in Developing Collaborative Workspaces for Solving Complex Problems

author: Terrence Fernando, Think Lab, University of Salford
published: Feb. 12, 2009,   recorded: June 2008,   views: 3907
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This talk was mainly focused on industrial, human and technical challenges in creating collaborative workspaces for sectors such as aerospace, automotive, construction and urban planning. It initially took the complexity of designing aircraft as an example and illustrated the distributed nature of the team, need for maintaining large amount of information during the lifecycle and the need for assessing various design view points to ensure successful delivery. This part of the talk was mainly focused on creating an appreciation of the need for collaborative tools for design teams to work together more effectively. The talk then went on to explain the barriers and challenges in terms of deploying collaborative technology with in engineering organisations. Issues such as unwillingness to adapt to change, generation gap/change, lack of social cues, misunderstandings of language, unfamiliarity of collaborators with one another, cultural barriers, lack of training/guidelines and lack of accessibility for technology were considered as the current barriers to deploy collaborative technologies in industry. It was suggested that there are several drivers which might force people to overcome those barriers in order to survive in the future. Some of the examples of these barriers are global competition, migration of design and manufacturing facilities to low cost markets ( Eastern Europe and Far East) and new economical powers (China, India) and the need for implementing concurrent engineering to achieve low cost and high quality products on time. The talk then focused on the creating a collaborative workspace for distributed engineering organsiations. It first discussed the future scenarios developed by the project and discussed the need for innovative technologies for supporting collaboration among stakeholders. The scenario presented in the talk included a DMU scenario in aerospace, design of a toilet for disable people, design of car mirrors and a mobile maintenance for aircrafts. The following issues were identified as the key challenges in creating a collaborative workspaces for these scenarios : Information Sharing, Creation of Workspaces to Support Different Working Styles, Virtual Infrastructure, Enhanced Sense of Presence, Physical Environments, Communication of View Points.

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