Related Projects

Decision Support for Dependability

This Activity runs from October 2000 - January 2004 . Progress Update


Decision-making about IT systems takes place in the face of a great deal of uncertainty: for example, in the understanding of often imprecisely understood social or commercial requirements, or in the efficacy of the practices and procedures used. Judgements about dependability used in decision-making are thus inevitably based on very disparate sources of evidence: these can range from subjective human judgement to 'hard' data collected from testing or logical analysis. The decision-making context can vary from the rather formal frameworks in which some safety critical industries operate, to less well-understood (and fast-changing) business environments upon which commercial organisations depend. In all these cases, the role played by expert judgement seems to be greater than it is for more conventional, non-IT systems, and this must be taken into account in this project.

The term 'safety case' has come to mean the body of evidence, and the arguments deploying the evidence, that are used to make safety claims for a system. We shall similarly take 'dependability case' to mean the evidence and arguments that are used to support wider dependability claims. Work on dependability cases in the project will address three issues: the 'strength' of the individual evidence strands; their dependence upon one another; the means for combining the strands of evidence into a judgement, assessment or prediction. There will be a particular focus on those difficult situations where there is a high degree of subjectivity in the evidence. Find out more about the objectives of this activity.


The Manager of this activity is Bev Littlewood . The site(s) involved in this activity is/are [ City University ] [ University of York ] . A full list of people involved in the activity is shown below.

Bev Littlewood City University
Michael Harrison Newcastle University
Shamus Smith University of York
Angela Miguel University of York


We welcome collaboration with industrial partners and users. We are interested in helping people design devices that meets the wider needs of society, and in the problems that people have in using technology. Collaboration can take several forms, from meetings to discuss particular issues, to working together on funded projects. If you are interested in collaborating with us please contact the Activity Manager in the first instance.

Details of the partners already involved in this Project Activity are available below:

British Aerospace
British Aerospace is already supporting work at Newcastle into models, from detail components up to whole systems, with a particular focus on the dependability of the models produced particularly where modelling and simulation is being used to replace physical testing, since the company recognises that dependability is ultimately a business issue.

Northern Electric
Northern Electric Distribution Limited is the asset management company within the Northern Electric group. They must respond to OFFER regulatory requirements that potentially have impact on th dependability of supply. They are very interested in the role that decision support technologies might play in improving their ability to respond to requirements.

The Swiss Reinsurance Company was founded in Zurich on 19 December 1863. Swiss Re does business from over 70 offices in more than 30 countries with over 8,300 employees, providing risk transfer, risk financing and asset management to its global client base.

Adelard is a specialist independent safety consultancy established in 1987. Adelard is interested in a wide spectrum of problems in the area of the asurance and development of safety related computer-based systems, ranging from formal machine assisted verification to the human and social vulnerabilities of organisations. They have worked with several of the members of DIRC.


A list of publications associated with this Activity is available.

Related Projects

The projects listed below are related to this Activity.

Diversity with Off- the-Shelf Components ( DOTS )

DOTS is a joint project between Newcastle University and City University. It is an EPSRC funded project that will look at ways of using off-the-shelf components in diverse fault-tolerant systems.

Validation of Graphically Elicited Multi-variate Probability Models for Safety Assessment of Computer-based Systems

This project is an sponsored by EPSRC-ROPA (Realising Our Potential) and will investigate issues of feedback and validation associated with elicitation of expert judgements for BBNs. City University is participating in this project.

Page Maintainer: Credits      Project Members only Last Modified: 11 August, 2005